Watch CBSN Live

Fergie's Goose Cooked with Royal Family?

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is under fire after allegedly being caught in a sting by the British tabloid News of the World.

CBS News correspondent Richard Roth reported on "The Early Show" Monday that Ferguson is said to have been caught trying to sell access to her former husband, Prince Andrew, to a so-called "rich businessman."

However, the "rich business man" was actually a newspaperman who wearing hidden cameras and microphones. In a recording gleaned from the interview, Fergie can be seen and heard plainly trying to sell a meeting with the prince.

And one longtime royals watcher says Ferguson's alleged move may have permanently damaged her relationship with Buckingham Palace.

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

The tabloid says its sting was taped last week.

In the video, $40,000 cash can be seen on a table in front of Ferguson -- a down-payment against Ferguson's full asking price of more than $700,000 -- a half a million British pounds.

In the recording, Ferguson says, "Next, onto the next thing. Five hundred thousand pounds when you can to me (can) open doors."

Married for 10 years and divorced in 1996, Fergie and Andrew stayed friends while he went on to become an unpaid ambassador for British trade, and she complained of financial hardship that forced her to sell her celebrity.

Fergie insists the influence peddling wasn't to touch her ex-husband directly, Roth reports.

In the video, Ferguson, apparently referring to Andrew, says, "And he's completely whiter than white."

Roth said a spokesman for the Queen has said Andrew knew nothing about it. Ferguson says she regrets a lapse in judgment. Roth said palace sources are widely quoted describing her behavior in three words: "vulgar, vulgar, vulgar."

Katie Nicholl, royal correspondent for Mail on Sunday and author of a forthcoming book on Princes William and Harry, said on "The Early Show" Ferguson's behavior could make it "very, very difficult" for her to get back into the good graces of the royal family.

"This has been a very important few years for Fergie. She has ingratiated herself with the royal family. ... Now, in one fell, damaging swoop -- all for money -- all the work over the past few years has just been undone."

Nicholl said the Duke of York has issued a statement confirming that he didn't have any idea of what was happening. However, Nicholl pointed out, British columnists are speculating that this might not be the case.

"Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez asked, "She and Andrew have two children. Will they be affected in any way?"

Nicholl said the children, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York, will likely be impacted by the scandal.

"(They're) both incredibly close to their mother. This will be terribly embarrassing for them. They're incredibly close. They were all at Prince Andrew's 50th birthday together. And indeed, they take holidays together. So I think they're all going to be feeling very sorry for their mother, but also very divided."

But why did she do it? Is Ferguson in as much financial trouble as she claims?

Nicholl said, "The duchess does have financial problems at the moment. She is penniless, or she claims she's penniless. I think one of the most interesting things to have come out of this is that the duchess only took a 15,000-pound severance when she divorced Prince Andrew. ... The duchess has always claimed that she didn't want to take money, she didn't want challenge the queen in the court, but now this is what she's been reduced to doing. You have to question whether the royal family was right to take this decision not pay the duchess off, and I think many will say that in retrospect, they may well have been better to paid her off."

Rodriguez added, "So far Ferguson has not been accused of doing anything illegal -- just unsavory."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.