Sarah Ferguson: ‘I’m constantly on the verge of bankruptcy
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is "continually on the verge of financial bankruptcy" and is struggling to repay three personal friends and three different businesses that she owes money, she has admitted.
In the first episode of Finding Sarah, her new six-part documentary series for Oprah Winfrey's television channel, the Duchess said: "I don't really understand finances at all".
She is believed to be receiving £200,000 (€226,000) for taking part in the series, which sees her submit to a string of tearful therapy sessions with TV counsellors and experts.
US television analysts have said the figure is "very low" compared to the sums paid even to medium-profile personalities in mid-ranking American reality TV shows.
"At the moment I'm just worried about paying off people that need to be paid off," the Duchess said. "There's three firms and three personal friends".
The Duchess was filmed last year offering a tabloid reporter posing as a businessman access to The Duke of York for half a million pounds. She said the resulting scandal caused all her income streams to dry up, forcing her to sack her aides.
"I lost all my jobs, I lost all my staff, I lost everything," she said.
"I've tried very hard not to go into financial bankruptcy." The Duchess blamed her financial illiteracy on her years spent receiving an allowance from the Queen as the wife of the Duke. "When we got divorced I didn't know how to do anything," she said.
And she admitted that she still owed her lifestyle to the generosity of Prince Andrew, who allows her to live in a wing of his official residence, Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park.
"If I didn't have him, I'd be homeless," she said. Asked if she might find her own house, she said she was still focused entirely on repaying her debts.
Elsewhere in the programme, the Duchess said that she didn't think she was doing anything wrong by offering the undercover reporter access to the Duke.
She was asked: "Before you knew it was a setup, did your moral compass go off and say 'I've crossed a line here, this is a bad thing'?"
After a long pause, she said: "But I didn't... when you say moral compass, my moral compass is so strong that what, why was it a bad... I mean, I mean, I didn't know I'd done something so wrong.
"They said that it was a bribe – and it wasn't a bribe. I would never accept a... I didn't know it appeared that way. It worries me even that word, actually".
Asked whether she felt that she had done wrong now, a year after it turned into a serious crisis for her and the royal family, the Duchess pointedly avoided answering the question.
"I feel so remorseful for every pain I've caused – my entire family, my ex-husband and everybody," she said.
"I feel ludicrous. And that's what I have to live with."
The Duchess was told by Dr Phil McGraw, Miss Winfrey's TV psychologist protégé, that she was "emotionally bankrupt". He added: "You are depressed, you are anxious, you have self-hatred".