Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson recently finalized the purchase of a ski chalet in Switzerland. In reporting the news, The Daily Mail on Saturday questioned The Duke of York’s finances and that of other members of the royal family.
“[The purchase] raises questions as to how they can afford the chalet, which has up to six permanent staff including a chef. Andrew is not known to have a vast private fortune, while Sarah only recently managed to clear £5 million (US $7.6 million) in debts she ran up through a series of disastrous business investments.”
The chalet is said to be worth up to £13 million (US $19.6 million). It is not known how much “Andrew York” and “Sarah Ferguson,” as the deeds list them, paid for the property.
Although The Mail notes the couple received £15 million (US $22.6 million) from the sale of their former family home in 2007, the paper goes on to question the terms of that sale. The home sold for £3 million (US $4.5 million) above the asking price to an energy tycoon even though it had been on the market for five years. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s former home, Sunninghill Park in Berkshire, had been a wedding gift from the Queen.
The questions come as Prince Andrew’s name has been raised in connection with a legal case involving Jeffrey Epstein. Friends of the Prince say the Epstein scandal is unfortunate, because since 2011 Andrew has worked hard to get on the right path with his family.
“Until this happened he had been very upbeat and enthusiastic about what he was doing and the feedback from the visits and partner organisations was extremely positive. Within the wider Royal household it was being acknowledged that he had moved in the right direction.”
Last year Prince Andrew undertook 90 foreign engagements, some of which were taxpayer-funded, and some of which were paid for from private funds. The Mail says this “has led to concern about who is bankrolling the prince.”
On Monday a Guardian opinion piece agreed with The Daily Mail‘s decision to “pursue Prince Andrew over his finances.”
“They are reported to have [purchased the Swiss ski chalet] with a joint mortgage. But how did a pair of non-earners do that?… How does he manage to live so high on the hog? How can a man with “a modest naval pension” and an annual stipend from his mother, the Queen, afford a £13m property? How does he pay for his regular private jet flights?”
The Mail reported that Prince Andrew’s office is paid for out of the Queen’s personal fortune but it is “unlikely” she would also pay for his jet travel.
The paper also quoted a source that said the couple bought the chalet as an investment for their children, since neither Prince Andrew nor Sarah Ferguson own property.
Andrew and Sarah live together in the 30-room mansion Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park with their daughter Eugenie. Their other daughter Beatrice has apartments in the Royal Lodge and St. James Palace. Sarah Ferguson has also started renting an apartment in Belgravia, according to The Mail. Prince Andrew is reported by The Mail to have spent £7.5 million (US $11.3 million) renovating the property.
A BBC News report on the chalet purchase made sideways reference to potential inquiries about Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew’s finances.
“It has been stressed to the BBC that no ‘external party’ provided funding for the purchase.”
[Prince Andrew image: Getty via The Mirror]