Fergie's Scandals

Sarah Ferguson’s bribe in exchange for access to ex-husband Prince Andrew wasn’t her first royal blunder. From her infamous toe-sucking affair to her reality-TV sellout, VIEW OUR GALLERY of the Duchess of York’s biggest disasters.

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The Duchess of Pork Goes to Weight Watchers

A lifelong yo-yo dieter and self-proclaimed emotional eater, Ferguson topped out at more than 200 pounds after the 1990 birth of her daughter Eugenie, earning her the unfortunate tabloid nickname “The Duchess of Pork.” She eventually managed to drop the extra weight and, in spite of raised eyebrows, became a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers in 1997. As usual, Fergie was blunt about the gig and chalked it up to money troubles, telling USA Today, “I’d just been divorced and I needed to earn a living. I still do.”

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An Affair to Remember

In her most notorious (or at least most photographed) “oops” moment, Fergie was snapped by paparazzi in August 1992 having a very public affair with her “financial adviser” John Bryan before her divorce from Prince Andrew was finalized (and while she was still staying at Balmoral Estate). The pictures, which showed Bryan sucking on the Duchess of York’s toes while on vacation in Saint-Tropez, sent shockwaves around the U.K. and served as a final blow to her already rocky relationship with the royal family. The public was also less than sympathetic, with the London Daily Star sniping, “The British people are now fed up with the frolics of Fergie. It’s one thing to be a troubled wife with marriage problems. It’s another thing to be a trollop.”

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Royalties to the Royal Bank

After her divorce from Prince Andrew, Fergie’s self-publicized financial woes turned out to be worse than anyone had expected: The duchess owed $4 million to the royal bank, Coutts & Co., in 1996. The announcement was only the beginning of a string of debt problems for Ferguson, who by that point was famous for her shopping sprees, drawing both disdain and Imelda Marcos comparisons.

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Former Astrologist Tells All

To top off an already terrible year, in December 1996 Fergie’s former astrologist Madame Vasso published a tell-all book about the duchess, Fergie: The Very Private Life of the Duchess of York. Among other embarrassing revelations, Vasso detailed Ferguson’s “violent rivalry” with Princess Diana over John F. Kennedy Jr.’s attention, as well as the advice she gave Diana for improving her sex life with Charles. The betrayal didn’t stop the duchess from seeking unconventional spiritual advice—shortly after the book’s publication, she was reported to have enlisted the services of shamans and holistic healers, including Dr. Issac Mathai, while on a trip to India.

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Like Mother, Like “Chunky” Daughter

Apparently a lifetime of weight struggles didn’t make Ferguson more sensitive to her daughter’s dietary woes. In 1997, Fergie stated publicly that her 8-year-old daughter Beatrice was “chunky” and had been put on a diet. “I mean, she is only 8, but she definitely can pack it on a bit," Ferguson told The Independent, adding, “Poor baby. I think overeating sort of runs in the family.” The faux pas came shortly after the announcement of her deal with Weight Watchers, prompting this terse statement from the company: “Weight Watchers UK does not believe that children should ever be encouraged to diet.”

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Shunned to the Servants’ Quarters

Less than a year after their divorce was finalized in 1997, Fergie moved back to Prince Andrew’s estate at Sunninghill, which sources said would save the cash-strapped duchess more than $8,000 a month on the rent she paid for her Surrey mansion. The move wasn’t exactly a return to her former lifestyle, though: On her return to Sunninghill, Ferguson took up residence in the estate’s servants’ quarters.

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Selling Her Books or Her Soul?

After reportedly being pursued by creditors, Fergie sold the rights to her children’s books in October 2009, including Tea for Ruby, a bestseller in the U.S., and Little Red, about a spunky ginger-haired girl based loosely on herself. The buyer, indie film company HandMade Films, said the works would be the prize properties in its kids’ division. Fergie reportedly received a huge sum, plus a big chunk of future profits, around 35 percent. With the characters potentially being emblazoned on uncountable knickknacks, some worried the duchess was again cashing in on her royal connections. But others said the deal was less embarrassing than bankruptcy.

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Paying Her Dues

The children’s books deal didn’t work out perfectly, however, considering Fergie’s lawyers took her to court over unpaid legal fees totaling nearly $300,000 in April. The firm had worked on a deal to turn her characters into an animated series as well as a trademark under which the duchess was going to sell products on QVC. According to reports in The Daily Mail, invoices, as well as an offer to discuss a payment plan, went unanswered.