Ferguson: Access offer began as way to help friend

Duchess of York tells Oprah she's in "very serious financial debt"

Published June 1, 2010 6:45PM (EDT)

An apologetic Sarah Ferguson told Oprah Winfrey that even though she is in deep financial debt, her offer to sell access to her former husband, Prince Andrew, for $724,000 began as an effort to raise money for a friend.

The Duchess of York said in an interview that aired Tuesday on The Oprah Winfrey Show that she only asked for so much money after the undercover journalist posing as a businessman gave her $40,000 for a friend, whom she would not identify.

"I just took a long shot ... I think I just went, 'Well, if you're going for 40 (thousand dollars), well, OK, if you want to do business in the future,'" she said, trying to explain, before, admitting that she didn't know what she was thinking.

Still, she went ahead after being told the man might invest in her children's books, videos and other projects as well as assist her with what she described as her own "very serious financial debt."

Ferguson would not elaborate on how much money she owes but said she is considering filing for bankruptcy.

She also would not confirm a report Winfrey said she'd seen that says she receives $20,000 a year in her divorce settlement, saying that she is prohibited from discussing it because of a confidentiality agreement she signed. But she also suggested that she took less money than she could have because she wanted to remain friends with Queen Elizabeth, whom she referred to as "the boss."

At times, Winfrey seemed confused by Ferguson's answers, wondering, for example, why someone in her position did not simply ask her ex-husband or the Queen of England for $40,000.

"I am divorced from the royal family and I would never dream of doing that," she said.

Ferguson repeatedly used phrases such as "spiraling out of control," to explain her offer of access to Andrew. She even told Winfrey that she went ahead with the agreement with the "businessman" despite her suspicion that he was, in fact, an undercover journalist.

The offer to sell access was caught on video, which the tabloid News of the World posted its website in May. Ferguson portrayed the scene in the video as the latest chapter in a deeply troubled life that she still doesn't quite understand.

"I hope in (the) future that I will one day get to the point where I'll show that this is what you get to when you don't face your dark side, and the demons and fears that run in you and it gets to the point where you sabotage out of control," she said.

Ferguson, 50, married Andrew, who is fourth in line to the throne, in 1986. They had two children, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, before divorcing in 1996.

Since then Ferguson has written children's books, made television documentaries and acted as a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers.

By Don Babwin

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