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Sarah Ferguson: Royally Overspending and in Debt

{ Posted on Jun 02 2010 by Marcus Alston }

We found out last week that Sarah Ferguson tried to sell access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, to an undercover reporter from the News of the World, in exchange for a reported $40,000 in cash and 500,000 pounds ($718,500) by wire transfer.  She thought the reporter was a wealthy businessman from India.  While it’s not clear if her conduct is illegal, many found this appalling and embarrassing.  How could the Duchess of York stoop so low as to sell access to the prince as if he were a commodity?  More importantly, why would she do this?  Read on.


Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is broke and in debt.  She was desperate for money.  She, like many in the world, has a spending problem, and spends more than her income.  It happens to athletes all too frequently, but rarely do you hear about British royalty struggling financially.  These people are supposed to be sophisticated with access to seemingly unlimited funds.  I guess her job as a spokesperson for Weight Watchers was not enough.  By the way, she joins the dubious company of ex-pitchman Lawrence Taylor (a broke former millionaire).  According to her former personal assistant, she also has reportedly been paid money to kiss men as well.  And these kisses were not a fund raiser for charity either unless you consider Sarah Ferguson a charity.  She certainly is becoming a charitable and sad case.  Yet she should serve as notice to all of us that financial trouble indeed does not discriminate and hits people of all backgrounds and income levels.  Be careful.  Make a budget. Live below your means, even if you have great means, in order to control your debt.  Learn to adjust if your budget changes.  I am afraid that  in Sarah’s case her income probably decreased dramatically as it often does after a divorce for the non-bread winning spouse, and she did not adjust.  She wanted to continue to live like royalty and was caught trying to “keep up with the Joneses” (or in this case like the Queen of England and other royal family members).

Sarah Ferguson, aged 50, spilled her guts on the Oprah Winfrey show which aired Tuesday and said that she was drinking and “in the gutter”.  In the interview she admits that she could not pay the rent on her home and has huge debt.  “I think I’ve been living, trying to be the Duchess of York,” was her explanation.  “It’s so difficult to explain.  Living beyond my means? Yes. Trying to keep it up, keep me up, keep Sarah going,” she told Oprah.  “I think I’ve got a huge uphill battle.  That’s why I must look at bankruptcy.  I must look at all these situations now,” she stated.  She also added, “I was spiraling so out of control.  I was looking for the quick fixes – places that I wouldn’t normally look.”

The Duchess of York has few assets of her own.  She reportedly received about 300,000 pounds from her divorce and is paid a measly $20,000 (some blogs report $22,000) per month by Prince Andrew, aka the Duke of York, as part of the divorce (by contrast, Princess Diana reportedly received a lump sum of around 17 million pounds as a part of her divorce settlement from Prince Charles).  Sarah contends that she could have tried for more when they divorced, but wanted to have a positive relationship with her ex.  Might it also have a little (a lot really) to do with her several reported affairs when Prince Andrew was traveling, including one with her financial advisor at the time, John Bryan?  While Sarah has debt, in 2008, Prince Andrew sold the house that was given to him as a wedding gift by his mother Queen Elizabeth for 15 million pounds.  He is reportedly also given an allowance of about 250,000 pounds a year by the Queen and has an annual expense account of about 350,000 pounds for his role as Britain’s special representative for international trade and investment.  Prince Andrew is the second son of Queen Elizabeth, the brother of Prince Charles, and fourth in the line to the throne.

Sarah, America likes a good comeback story.  Climb out of debt, but do it responsibly and ethically. No short cuts, no quick fixes.

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