NEVER MIND THAT APPROXIMATELY $135,000 was spent updating the six-bedroom mock-Tudor house. Or that architect Tchaik Chas-say—designer of such chic London clubs as Groucho and Freds—was hired, as one insider put it, “to avoid the errors of taste that happened last time at Sunninghill.” Or even that masses of roses were scattered about to welcome her to her new home. When the Duchess of York moved into Romenda Lodge in Surrey on May 18, she reportedly lapsed into “a fit of uncontrollable sobbing as the realization of her painful separation from the Duke of York and the royal family finally dawned upon her,” according to the Evening Standard.
Many in Britain, though, weren’t feeling much sympathy. Although Fergie had botched her royal role, editorial writers carped, the Crown—hence, the taxpayer—will now keep her in style on the dole. Harrumphed the newspaper Today: “A nation struggling to make ends meet in a recession has to cough up for the extravagance of the Yorks’ failed marriage.”
Indeed, the separated Sarah Ferguson will suffer few privations. Five miles from Sunninghill Park, the garish $9 million house she shared with Andrew, her new digs are tasteful and luxurious, according to codesigner Nina Campbell. Bubbled Campbell: “It’s a very country house, but with style.” Certainly pin money won’t be a problem. According to a settlement about to be finalized, Fergie will receive a reported $5,400 a week and 30 percent in the event of the sale of Sunninghill Park; the Queen will also cover $450,000 in checking overdrafts Fergie has made throughout her marriage. In return, Sarah must agree to curb her expenses, say no to freebies and promise not to write a kiss-and-tell-all memoir.
Tears aside, Fergie is reportedly delighted by the financial agreement. And added to the Palace payoff is the deal her agents are negotiating to turn her Budgie children’s books into a TV cartoon series with merchandising spin-offs—a move expected to net an astonishing $5.4 million. She may have a problem with some of the royals, but the Duchess knows all she needs to know about royalties.