Duchess Fergie: I Was 'Out of Control' with Financial Desperation

Duchess Fergie: I Was 'Out of Control' with Financial Desperation
Sarah Ferguson (left) and Oprah Winfrey
George Burnsa

06/01/2010 AT 01:10 PM EDT

Sarah Ferguson first got embroiled in a cash-for-access scandal because she was trying to help a friend in need of cash, the Duchess of York now says – but her own financial desperation got her in even deeper.

"A friend of mine needed $38,000 urgently," Ferguson said Tuesday on The Oprah Winfrey Show, though she didn’t identify the pal in need. Ferguson then decided at the last minute to ask for even more money for herself – about $725,000 – and though she didn’t have specific plans for the money, she said of her debt, "I was so out of control with desperation where I’d reached a point of no return."

Ferguson, 50, was caught on video accepting money in exchange for promising access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew. The man posing as a businessman willing to pay for the privilege was an undercover reporter for the News of the World.





The Duchess of York said she suspected the man was a journalist when they first met, but ignored her instincts. He told her he was interested in investing in her business dealings, and that he was having personal problems and needed her advice.

The reporter gave her $40,000 as a down payment, which she says has now been returned to the newspaper. Winfrey played the tape of the encounter, which Ferguson said she’d never seen in its entirety before. "I feel sorry for her. She looks exhausted," Ferguson said after watching herself on tape.

Living Beyond Her Means

Ferguson, who denied having been engaged in similar requests for money in the past, said she had been living beyond her means, "trying to keep Sarah going," and running up such huge debts that she couldn’t even afford rent and was forced to move back into a home with her ex-husband.

She would not confirm how much she received from Prince Andrew in their divorce settlement – rumored to be $20,000 a year – but said she opted for congeniality over cash. "I chose friendship with the family," she said. "I wanted friendship with the boss," referring to the Queen of England.

Ferguson said she is now figuring out how to get back on her feet, including filing for bankruptcy. "I've got a huge uphill battle," she said of her financial situation.



Andrew 'Understanding'

She refused to go into detail about Prince Andrew’s response to the scandal, only saying, "He reached out with understanding." She added that she hopes to be able to live on her own at some point. "I don't want to keep being a burden on him," she said.

The couple’s children, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, have been supportive as well. "They said it’s a really good fresh clean start for you," she said. "We’re 100 percent here for you and we love you.”

Ferguson admitted that she damaged not only her own reputation but, "I have, through my actions, hurt millions of people, my friends and family foremost." Now, she said, "I will beg for forgiveness,” but “I have got to go forward. "

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