Opinion: Sarah Ferguson and Those Bloody Joneses

Filed under: Celeb Parents, Opinions, Celeb News & Interviews

In case you missed it, here's the scoop -- Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, was caught on camera offering access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, in exchange for half a million pounds.

The video, titled "Fergie's Dirty Deal" by the fair and balanced British tabloid News of the World, looks like something out of "Law & Order."



Why would Fergie do this? It's not that hard to figure out: She needs money. And while the Duchess has apologized for her "serious lapse in judgment," from watching the tape, she clearly felt justified in the moment.

How is that possible? Well, selling access to royalty is not illegal in Great Britain, according to published reports. With the $22,000 per year divorce settlement she receives from Prince Andrew, it's difficult to live the life of a Duchess. Given the opportunity to make some serious cash ($724,000 in U.S. dollars), why wouldn't she do it? In her mind, I suppose, she sees herself as royalty, and wants to live the high life.

Except that she got caught. On tape. This will be a fun one to explain to the kids. Ferguson has two children with Prince Andrew, 21-year-old Princess Beatrice of York and 20-year-old Princess Eugenie of York.

I was discussing this with my editor and she told me about a former colleague from another job who got caught with his hand in the cash-filled cookie jar. This person isn't royalty, just a regular working stiff who wasn't making enough money to keep his family as comfortable as they -- or he -- would have liked. He embezzled from his employer and, like Fergie, got busted.

So why did he do it?

Taking the money "started by keeping up with the Joneses," he tells us. He had every intention of paying it back, but the vicious cycle got bigger and bigger and "then it became about putting out a financial fire," he says.

His actions required a certain amount of mental gymnastics, or as he puts it, "You mindf**k yourself into doing it."

Unlike the Duchess, he's not famous and his children were young at the time, so his subsequent arrest and felony conviction remain a secret from his kids to this day.

"I haven't told them because it would hurt them, and a parent should never consciously hurt a child," he says. Still, he adds, "If they ever found out, I wouldn't deny it. ... This happened years ago and every day I am afraid that they will find out."

The Duchess doesn't have that option. The world saw her screw up. Unlike other celebrities who have fallen from grace, Ferguson is not rushing off to rehab, but that may happen at some point. For right now, she's staying in the public eye promoting her new children's book series, "Helping Hand Books."

But Fergie seems to be handling the press just fine. According to CBS News, she was joking with her audience at New York's Javits Center, telling the crowd, "As you all know, I really don't like grownups. I prefer children."

With both Fergie and the businessman, it's easy to point out that they could've just lived more simply rather than behave like impulsive, immature children themselves.

But we're not in their probably very expensive shoes.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.