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Queen bails out Duchess of York: Report

world Updated: Jul 12, 2010 17:15 IST

The British Queen has stepped in to bail out her former daughter-in-law, Duchess of York, who's almost bankrupt after a series of disastrous business deals, a media report said.

50-year-old Sarah Ferguson, who was caught in May in a sting operation demanding money from a businessman to provide access to her former husband and Britain's trade envoy Prince Andrew, is two million pounds in debt.

Now, her former husband and Queen's second son Prince Andrew has ordered his private office at Buckingham Palace --which is financed by 249,000 pounds a year from the Monarch's own pocket -- to sort out her financial difficulties and cut her spending, the Daily Mail reported.

He told her: "From now on, I am going to take control of your life," the report said.

The first move was to sack Ferguson's seven full-time staff plus three part-timers.

The distraught team, some of whom have worked for the Duchess for 15 years, were called to Andrew's mansion, Royal Lodge, at Windsor on Wednesday night and given their marching orders by Amanda Thirsk, his deputy private secretary.

According to sources, a number have been working for nothing because the Duchess couldn't pay their salaries but will get only the statutory minimum redundancy pay and were even asked to work out their notice for free.

Buckingham Palace, however, has declined to comment but sources close to Andrew said he was immensely sympathetic to his former wife's plight. One said: "The Duke feels very strongly that he has a duty to help and, as there is no public money involved, it is entirely up to him whether he does so."

Though Ferguson and Prince Andrew divorced nearly 14 years ago, she still lives with him and their two children at Windsor.