The Royal Foot Comes Down

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LONDON: The British Royal Family can't seem to buy a break these days. On Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth made it known that the Duchess of York may not be able to buy anything at all. Following reports in the British tabloids that Sarah Ferguson, the estranged wife of the Queen's second son, is more than a million dollars in debt, a palace spokesman proclaimed that there would be no royal bailout. "These are matters which the Duchess of York must discuss and resolve with her bankers and other financial advisers." Such as? "They haven't forgiven her for the topless toe-sucking episode," says TIME's Belinda Luscombe, referring to the 1992 publication of a series of photographs showing a barebreasted Duchess cavorting with her American financial adviser on a Carribbean isle. "Fergie also doesn't have the heart of the people, the way Princess Di does, so it's easier for them to kind of leave her out in the cold." No slouch on the spending front, the Duchess reportedly burned through more than $900,000, double her income, last year. According to one British tab, the expenditures included at least $100,000 on clothes, gifts and social events; $180,000 rent on a mansion in Windsor; and at least a half million dollars on staff, including a dresser, lady-in-waiting, butler, cook and gardener.