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Fergie asks the royal family for forgiveness, tabloid says

(AP) Sarah Ferguson, whose sexual indiscretions and brash behavior helped undermine respect for the British royal family, has begged for their forgiveness, a London tabloid reported Monday.

The Sun quoted an unidentified family friend as saying the Duchess of York, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, sent handwritten letters to Queen Elizabeth II and her children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne."(The letters) are all basically asking for forgiveness," the friend told the Sun. "She acknowledges that she has behaved badly in the past. She makes it very clear she wants to put the past behind her. She says it is time to forgive and forget."

The "long and rambling and very emotional" letters, sent the week after Princess Diana's funeral, shocked the recipients, the friend told the Sun.

Diana, her beau Dodi Fayed and their driver were killed in an Aug. 31 car crash in Paris.

Fergie, as she is popularly known, married Andrew in 1986. They divorced in 1996.

She was purged from the staid world of British royalty after photos turned up in the tabloid press showing her topless, having her toes nibbled by her financial adviser.

The big-spending, fun-loving duchess also ran into debt before announcing earlier this year that she had cleared a $6.9 million bank overdraft.

The Sun quoted the friend as saying the letters were being interpreted as a bid by the duchess to worm her way back into the royal family and smooth the path for a possible reconciliation with Andrew.

"It can only be seen as a terrible step backwards after everything that has happened," a royal aide told the paper.