Fergie 'Devastated' After Pay-for-Access Sting
The tabloid News of the World posted video on its website that appears to show Ferguson discussing payment terms. She is heard to say "500,000 pounds ($724,000) when you can, to me, open doors."
Asked if she was referring to the prince, she said: "Yeah."
Later in the conversation, Fergie tells the reporter that "If you want to go and then if we want to do a big deal with Andrew, then that's the big one ... You send it to the bank account that I tell you to send it to."
Andrew is an international British trade ambassador. The newspaper said he knew nothing of the meeting.
The report is embarrassing, but there is no suggestion Ferguson did anything illegal.
PopEater's Rob Shuter, who has known Ferguson for years, says the scandal doesn't seem to fit her character.
"I saw the Duchess 2 months ago in New York City and she was in great spirits," Shuter said, saying that people should "not rush to judgment" just yet.
"Sarah spends more time raising money for charities than anyone I know," Shuter contends. "She is extremely protective about Prince Andrew and her children -- that's what makes this tape even more shocking. We have only seem an edited tape ... often careful editing can paint a picture that isn't always true."
Ferguson's spokeswoman, Kate Waddington, confirmed the recording was authentic. She said the duchess was "devastated" and regretted the embarrassment she had caused.
"Sarah is a smart woman but can sometimes get confused. I'm hoping that's what is happening right now," Shuter says.
Ferguson 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.
She also has struggled financially and has complained that her divorce settlement was stingy.
Recently the company set up to manage her U.S. career in publishing, public speaking and media work, Hartmoor LLC, collapsed with debts of around $1 million.
Buckingham Palace said it does not speak for Ferguson, who is no longer a member of the royal family, and would not comment on the story.
Ferguson was flying Sunday to Los Angeles, where she is scheduled to receive an award for her charity work.
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