Duchess of York jokes about newspaper sting

Wed May 26, 2010 2:43pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Britain's Duchess of York joked on Wednesday in reference to being caught apparently offering to sell access to her ex-husband Prince Andrew, saying she should learn from the clever characters in her children's books.

In footage posted on the website of British newspaper News of the World on Sunday, Sarah Ferguson appeared to ask for $40,000 in cash and 500,000 pounds ($718,500) by wire transfer, claiming she could introduce the undercover reporter to the prince, who is a UK trade envoy.

"I should take a leaf from some of my books, like 'Ashley Learns about Strangers' and 'Matthew and the Bullies,'" Ferguson, 50, said during a panel discussion at Book Expo America in New York to promote her new children's book.

The duchess, known as "Fergie," is no stranger to controversy and said in a statement on Sunday that she deeply regretted the situation and admitted that her financial situation was "under stress."

"(Author) Richard Peck says that in his books he tries to give readers leading characters they can look up to and reasons to believe in problems getting solved," she quipped at the Book Expo. "I think I'll read it immediately."

Ferguson has two daughters with Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth and fourth in line to the throne. Since their amicable divorce in 1996, she has found some consolation in the United States through a variety of television appearances, penning weight loss books and charity work.

But on Wednesday the New York Post newspaper poked fun at the duchess with a headline that read "Hey Fergie, if we pay you, will you go home?"

(Reporting by Karina Ioffee, editing by Michelle Nichols)

<p>Sarah Ferguson, Britain's Duchess of York, signs copies of her book "Helping Hand Books: Emily's First Day at School" at the BookExpo America in New York May 26, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>