How Will the Duchess Duck This One?


She has dipped her toes into the waters of indiscretion before, but this latest episode involving Sarah, Duchess of York, has disgraced her family in ways like no stunt she has ever pulled. (And she's pulled some doozies.) By accepting an undercover reporter's bribe in exchange for the promise of influence-peddling with her former husband, Prince Andrew, the Duchess has crossed the line into behavior that's criminal on top of being embarrassing.

She's apparently in desperate financial straits, and if indeed her bank-account picture is bleak, that gives her something in common with the untold Britons and Americans who are likewise struggling to make ends meet in the aftermath of the Great Recession. But they are not accepting bribes to pay the bills.

By embarrassing the House of Windsor, Fergie also has something in common with her nephew Prince Harry--maybe royal misdeeds are a redhead thing?--who in years past has shown up at a costume party dressed as a Nazi and made fun of his grandmother the Queen on video in front of his fellow cadets. But Harry is 25. Sarah is twice his age and clearly, should know better.

A New Testament parable counsels: "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded." To date, the Duchess of York has been given opportunities most people could never dream of. And to her credit, she has done a great deal of advocacy work, using her name and influence for good. But she's going to have a long road ahead of her to atone for this misstep. And the "punishment" should not amount to an appearance on Oprah followed by a  TV movie of the week.