Royal Watch

UPDATED 11/03/1997 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/03/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

CHANGING OF THE GUARD
She was quick to jettison husband and former bodyguard Daniel Ducruet when he got cozy with a stripper last year, but Princess Stephanie of Monaco still has a soft spot for the burly type: For the past six months she has been dating distant cousin Jean Raymond, 31, a former policeman now starting his own security business. The romance went public when Raymond was pictured in the latest issue of the Italian magazine Oggi embracing the princess in the woods near Nice. Prince Rainier, who opposed Stephanie's marriage to Ducruet, isn't commenting, but the fact that Raymond is living with the princess at her home, Le Clos Saint-Martin, must make his highness uneasy.

ROMANCE REDUX?
Is Fergie contemplating reentry into the royal family? According to the British tabloid The Sun, Prince Andrew's ex wrote to the Queen, Prince Charles and Princess Anne asking forgiveness for past indiscretions. "The letters," a royal official told The Sun, "are seen as a concerted attempt by Fergie...to smooth the path for a possible reconciliation with Prince Andrew." Balderdash, say sources close to the duchess. "After Diana's death she wrote a letter to Prince Charles—a condolence letter," says Howard Rubenstein, Fergie's New York City spokesman. As for a rapprochement between Andrew and Fergie (they live under the same roof at Sunninghill and dined out on Fergie's 38th birthday on Oct. 15), "that's without foundation," says a friend. "Begging to get back into the family is a ridiculous supposition, given that the duchess is carrying on with her own life." Fergie's ABC-TV special about extraordinary people, for which she scaled peaks with a blind mountaineer and herded cattle in Wyoming, is set to air by year's end.

EMPTY NEST?
At 33, Prince Edward may be about to vacate the family home. In an interview in Britain's Daily Telegraph on Oct. 7, the Queen's youngest son said that he hopes to move out of Buckingham Palace and into Bagshot Park, a country residence southwest of London, sometime next year. The vacant estate, once home to Queen Victoria's son, has a stable that could house Edward's burgeoning film production company. There is also plenty of room for a wife—though the prince insists his new address has nothing to do with Sophie Rhys-Jones, 32, his girlfriend of three years. "Please do not read too much into this in terms of any changes in my private life," he told the Telegraph. Doth he protest too much? "The family wouldn't have let Sophie go on the royal yacht all these years unless there had been some sort of understanding," says royal watcher Judy Wade. "I reckon next year we will have a wedding."

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