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Despite the fact they are divorced, the two continue to live together. They are currently, sources tell The Daily Beast, sequestered under COVID travel bans at the prince’s grace-and-favor home, Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park.
Harry and Meghan’s biographer Omid Scobie speculated this week that their pregnant daughter, Princess Eugenie, and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, had also moved into Royal Lodge but a source close to Eugenie and Jack told the Daily Beast that this is categorically not the case: the younger royals continue to reside at Harry and Meghan’s former home, Frogmore Cottage. Eugenie has always been exceptionally close to Harry.
Under current British lockdown rules, people are not allowed to leave their home except for essential purposes and daily exercise, so it is perhaps unsurprising that it was in the garden of Royal Lodge, another source who knows the Yorks and recognised the location told The Daily Beast, where Fergie filmed a Twitter video promoting her latest, most delightfully unlikely business plan yet; to become a bestselling romance author.
The deal between Andrew and Fergie, it appears, is very simple—they stand by each other no matter what. Andrew and her kids will be 100 percent behind the duchess’s latest career move.
Ferguson revealed in the short clip that she has written a book (the involvement of a ghost writer, Marguerite Kaye, an established career-author for Mills & Boon with more than 50 novels under her belt, was mentioned elsewhere) entitled Her Heart For A Compass.
Following her own heart, no doubt, Ferguson announced the news dressed in a ersatz Victorian-style outfit; perfect, she said, for riding a horse side-saddle like the heroine of her book, a fictionalized version of Ferguson’s great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, who is banished from polite society after fleeing an arranged marriage.
While many will applaud Fergie using the rolling lockdowns that have afflicted citizens of the U.K. for almost a year now to sit down and write a book, albeit with the help of a ghostwriter, the truth is that Sarah’s business empire has had a disastrous couple of years since allegations of impropriety against Andrew in connection with Jeffrey Epstein resurfaced after the billionaire’s 2019 suicide. His appalling performance on a BBC interview sealed his fate, and he was fired from the royal family shortly thereafter.
Fergie stood by Andrew, resolutely tweeting and speaking in support of “my prince” as she calls him, but the collateral damage has been considerable. It is not clear exactly which commercial contracts Fergie and Andrew have had cancelled; it is clear, however, that they are desperately short of money.
The clearest evidence of this is that they have been unable to fulfill a promise to complete an outstanding payment of some $9m on a luxury Swiss ski lodge they purchased six years ago.
The lodge, in the exclusive Alpine resort of Verbier, boasted, among other delights, a 650-sq ft indoor swimming pool; neighbors include Sir Richard Branson.
The couple are being sued by the chalet’s former owner, a former friend who gave them five years to pay and is said to feel badly let down by Sarah and Andrew.
A source close to Andrew and Sarah told The Daily Beast that stories of the lodge being offered at a knock-down price are untrue (the current asking price, 22 million Swiss francs ($25 million) is exactly what they paid for it six years ago). They did however concede that the sale is a financial necessity: “It is expected that its sale will enable outstanding debts on the property to be met,” the source said.
Financial stress is nothing new to Andrew and Fergie, unlike Andrew’s brother, Charles, who has a vast inherited personal fortune to indulge his every whim—a principal cause of the bad blood between the brothers. While the Yorks have always appeared to enjoy a lavish, millionaire lifestyle, there has never been much apparently on hand to pay for it.
As son of the Queen, Andrew used to be able to generate healthy fees on a regular basis from drumming up business deals with his international contacts (one wealthy Kazakh bought his and Sarah’s old house for several million pounds above the asking price) but who spies any advantage in doing deals or partnering with a pal of Jeffrey Epstein’s?
He now relies on annuities including a small Navy pension, estimated at around $27,000 a year, along with a reported annual allowance from the Queen of around $300,000. It is widely rumored that the Queen may be helping out in a private capacity with his legal bills (Andrew and Sarah’s spokespeople wouldn’t comment on their financial situation).
Because of Andrew’s straitened circumstances, Fergie’s financial input into the relationship—deals such as the joint purchase of the Verbier ski lodge suggest they are financially interdependent—has become increasingly important.
However the days when she could command seven-figure deals with a click of her fingers—as she did with her legendary WeightWatchers deals in the 2000s—are also long gone.
Instead, Fergie is piecing together a patchwork of smaller deals where she can, of which her new Mills and Boon writing gig is likely to be an important part. The jigsaw of her portfolio is well illustrated by her LinkedIn page, which describes her as, “a global humanitarian, businesswoman, best selling children’s book author, producer and wellness advocate”.
It is probably Fergie’s books that have done her best in the long run; she has published a staggering 55 books, her LinkedIn page says, including two autobiographies and multiple short children’s books.
Children’s literature and education is something she is clearly passionate about; over the past few months she has been reading children’s books on her slightly bonkers YouTube channel Fergie and Friends.
Again, the clips all appear to be filmed either inside Royal Lodge or in the garden, implying Andrew’s support for this brand-building exercise. The channel has over 7,000 subscribers—not much by Meghan Markle’ standards but enough, it seems, to help pique the interest of publishers along with her undoubted public profile.
Many are those in the royal firmament who have wished over the years that Fergie—loud, boisterous, unwilling to shut up—would just disappear.
The truth is, however, that neither she nor Andrew can afford for her to do that.