Royal Watch

updated 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

Facing a debt of $7.1 million just four months ago, the Duchess of York is pulling her finances out of the fire. Peddling her royal self, it seems, has been remarkably profitable: My Story, her autobiography, netted her a reported $3.7 million worldwide, and endorsement deals with Ocean Spray and Weight Watchers brought in another $2.5 million. Not that she's just collecting checks: Fergie, 37, is visiting five U.S. cities on behalf of Weight Watchers, and a recent edition of Paris Match (a glossy that offered her a $500,000 contract to debrief celebs) featured her tête-à-tête with Christian Dior guru John Galliano. Meanwhile, her loyal ex, Prince Andrew, reportedly chipped in $675,000. But while her credit line with Coutts, the royal bankers, has been largely paid off, the tax man still awaits his cut; Fergie owes $2.7 million to Her Majesty's government. No report about how she plans to deal with that, though she attended the Opera Ball in Vienna on Feb. 6 as the guest of celebrity-smitten Austrian construction magnate Richard Lugner. Her fee: $40,000.

In the past, Britain's royals were often vexed by the problem of keeping junior princes out of trouble. Some became warriors; others, like George VI, gained the throne when a sibling stumbled or perished. Now there's another option: Younger sons can go the syndication route, like Prince Edward. Known professionally as Edward Windsor, the prince signed a deal last month with CBS Enterprises. The contract, whose financial details remain secret, calls for CBS to distribute six documentaries from Ardent Productions, Edward's London company, to be hosted by the prince. CBS's interest was apparently piqued by Edward on Edward, the prince's 1996 documentary about great-uncle Edward VIII. Now that he's making real money, royal watchers predict Edward will pop the question to Sophie Rhys-Jones, 32, the public relations executive who lives with him at the palace.

Earl Spencer, Princess Di's brother, appears to be available again, having broken off with South African designer Chantal Collopy, whose husband is suing him for "enticement and alienation of affection." Meanwhile, Spencer, 32, is still at odds with wife Victoria, mother of his four children: The two are living in separate houses in Cape Town, where Spencer moved his family last year.

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