One of our favorite characters from the Princess Diana era of British royalty was quirky Sarah Ferguson, former wife of Prince Andrew, son of Queen Elizabeth. Andrew is Britain's special representative for international trade and investment.
Poor Fergie was caught on tape talking about influence through her former husband and about a bribe of 500,000 pounds, about $750,000. As reported in the British tabloid News of the World, she was caught on tape by a reporter accepting $40,000 cash as a down payment for her efforts.
"Five hundred thousand pounds [approx $750,000] when you can, to me... [to] open doors," Ferguson, 50, says on videotape during a meeting at a swanky London apartment. The British tabloid also printed a transcript of the conversation.
"Then you open up all the channels, whatever you need, whatever you want... We can do so much," she went on. "If you want to meet him in your business, look after me and he'll look after you."
Ferguson, a former Weight Watchers spokeswoman, appears to ask the reporter, who is posing as an international tycoon, for $40,000 in cash, and $720,000 by wire transfer "if you want a deal with Andrew... and then you meet Andrew."
After a pile of money is show on a coffee tape, the duchess puts her head in her hands (it's unclear if she's smiling or crying), and then moments later, hauls away a black computer bag stuffed with the cash, which is described as a fee for "doing the big deal with Andrew."
Ferguson says that Andrew was aware of the deal, but the newspaper says he was not.
"I will listen to the friendship talk between you two. And then I do it... You two talk. I listen. Then I activate," she said. "He meets the most amazing people. And he just throws them my way."
Ferguson wed the Duke of York, who is fourth in line to the throne, in 1986, but they split 10 years later. They are parents to two daughters, Beatrice, 21, and Eugenie, 20.
"He's so amazing," Ferguson says on the videotape. "We're the happiest divorced couple in the world."
The royal family was unavailable to comment. Fergie said in a statement that she had money problems but "that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment, and I am very sorry that this has happened. I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused."
Fergie has lost millions in business ventures (including the closing of her promotional firm, Hartmoor, last year, which she poured $2 million into), but still preferred to travel first class and in a chauffeur-driven Bentley.
Her $3 million contract with Weight Watchers expired in 2007, and according to the Times of London, she had to scale back her lavish 50th birthday party to a family meal because she couldn't afford it.
The only official comment by the Royal family was that she did nothing illegal. Here in America she would be guilty of taking bribes to influence people. Somehow it does not seem right that the Royal family cannot be guilty of accepting bribes in such a blatant case.