My own personal favorite quote about Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, who seems to always be in need of a great deal of money, comes from Ingrid Seward of Majesty Magazine. “It’s unbelievable that someone of Fergie’s intelligence,” said Seward, “could even consider getting involved in taking money from someone.”
There is a big leap of faith here, of course, and I am not even going to dwell on the “Fergie’s intelligence” part of it, because that’s wayyyyy too easy. A longtime resident of the eye of a storm, the Duchess first asked some sleazebag with a briefcase stuffed with cash if he worked for the News of the World (aka News of the Screws) and then took his negative reply as gospel — and his cash as down payment for access to her former spouse. ‘Nuff said.
But the other half of the observation — the notion that royals or ex-spouses of royals are somehow so lofty and above the fray that they can’t “even consider … taking money from someone” — has to be Majesty Mag’s idea of a joke. Surely.
Prince Andrew, the Duchess’s ex-husband, is said to be “apoplectic” over her greed in demanding around $700,000 from a reporter posing as a rich businessman. But why? Greed is rampant among the royals. Andrew himself receives £200,000 a year from the British public, only it’s not called a salary. Two years ago he sold Sunninghill Park, his home in Ascot, to Kenes Rakishev, a very wealthy Kazakh businessman — Andy is apparently friendly with lots of wealthy Kazakhs — for £15 million. Fishy? Very! Because the sum received was £3 million more than the value estimated by a lot of British real estate agents.
Prince Charles receives an annual £15 million from the Duchy of Cornwall estates, resides in three homes and keeps company with a fleet of polo ponies. Seven years ago, when he moved with his new bride Camilla into Clarence House (once occupied by his late grandmother), the British government paid £4.4 million to redecorate the place.
Oh — and Queen Elizabeth? She gets more than £41 million a year, also not called a salary. That would be gauche. It’s called grants-in-aid — which is a sort of scholarship for people who don’t actually need one.
I know, I know. The lady has expenses: Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Palace, Sandringham House, Kensington Palace, Holyrood Palace in Scotland, the royal helicopter, the royal train. All the royals and exes of royals and former royals and future royals and would-be royals have expenses. These sometimes weigh heavily.
A month ago, in a little-noticed news item, Sarah herself was taken to court by a bunch of lawyers who claimed she owed them more than $300,000. Some children’s book deal that was supposed to be turned into an animated TV series didn’t — big surprise — turn out. Also, the law firm claimed, its solicitors had helped create and protect a trademark for the Duchess’s proposed range of “lifestyle” items (read: cookie tins and furniture) that she intended to market on QVC. They would be sold, in theory, under the rubric: “From the Heart With …”
“Do you understand I haven’t a pot to piss in?” the Duchess told her nemesis. She gets, she confided to the reporter, only £15,000 a year in alimony. She has to live in the drafty Royal Lodge in Windsor. She looks around and she sees Andy, Chuck, Liz — all of them rolling in dosh. Taking money “from someone.” Because that’s what royals do.
From the heart.