Sarah, Duchess of York
|Duchess of York (more)|
The Duchess in 2008
|Spouse||Prince Andrew, Duke of York
(m. 1986; div. 1996)
|Issue||Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
|House||House of Windsor (by marriage)|
15 October 1959 |
27 Welbeck Street, London, England
|Religion||Church of England|
|Occupation||Writer, spokesperson, film producer, television personality|
Sarah, Duchess of York (Sarah Margaret; née Ferguson; born 15 October 1959) is a writer, charity patron, public speaker, film producer and television personality. Popularly referred to as "Fergie", she is the former wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She is the younger daughter of Major Ronald Ferguson and Susan Barrantes (née Wright). Her children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York, are respectively seventh and eighth in line to succeed their grandmother as monarch of 16 independent Commonwealth realms.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Marriage to Prince Andrew
- 3 Personal life after divorce
- 4 Charity work
- 5 Books
- 6 Film
- 7 TV and radio
- 8 Cultural references
- 9 Titles, styles, honours and arms
- 10 Issue
- 11 Ancestry
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Sarah Margaret Ferguson is the second daughter of Major Ronald Ferguson and his first wife, Susan Mary Wright. Sarah's older sister is Jane Ferguson Luedecke, a public relations executive now living and working in Australia. After Sarah's parents divorced in 1974, her mother married polo player Hector Barrantes and moved to Trenque Lauquen in the Argentine pampas. Sarah stayed at the 480-acre (1.9 km2) Dummer Down Farm at Dummer, Hampshire, her father's home since age 8. Major Ferguson married Susan Deptford and had three more children.
Sarah attended Daneshill School, Stratfield Turgis and then Hurst Lodge School, Ascot. After finishing a course at Queen's Secretarial College at the age of eighteen, Sarah went to work in a public relations firm in London. Later she worked for an art gallery, and then a publishing company.
Marriage to Prince Andrew
On 17 March 1986, Prince Andrew, (the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and fourth in line to the throne at the time) and Sarah Ferguson announced their engagement. Prince Andrew had known Ferguson since childhood, and they had met occasionally at polo matches, and became re-acquainted with each other at Royal Ascot in 1985. He designed an engagement ring consisting of ten diamonds surrounding a Burmese ruby for her. He chose the Burmese ruby to complement her fiery red hair.
After securing the Queen's permission (which is required by a British law, the Royal Marriages Act 1772, for children of the monarch), Andrew and Sarah were married in Westminster Abbey on 23 July 1986. The Queen bestowed the title Duke of York upon Prince Andrew, and as his new wife Sarah automatically assumed her husband's royal and ducal status and became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York.
The couple became parents on 8 August 1988, with the birth of their daughter, Beatrice. Their second child, another daughter, Eugenie, was born on 23 March 1990. During her marriage, the tabloid press ridiculed the Duchess after her weight climbed to 15 stone 10 pounds (100 kg) (220 lbs) labelling her unflatteringly as the "Duchess of Pork".
By 1991, while her husband was away on naval or royal duties, the Duchess was frequently seen in the company of other men, notably Texan multimillionaire Steve Wyatt. The Duke and Duchess of York finally announced their separation on 19 March 1992.
In August 1992, surreptitiously taken photographs of the Duchess sunbathing topless with John Bryan, an American financial manager, were published in the British tabloid Daily Mirror. The Duchess endured widespread public ridicule contributing to her further estrangement from the British Royal Family. After four years of official separation, the Duke and Duchess announced the mutual decision to divorce in May 1996.
By her divorce on 30 May 1996, she retained the style Her Royal Highness with the style of other divorced peeresses, eliminating the preface "The" before "Duchess of York". However, in accordance with letters patent issued in August 1996 regulating post-divorce royal titles, Sarah ceased being a Royal Highness, as she was no longer married to the Duke of York. Her current name, thus, is Sarah, Duchess of York. Should she marry again, Sarah would lose the use of the style of "Duchess of York".
Since the divorce, Sarah still attends some functions with her daughters, such as the investiture of the Duke of York into the Royal Victorian Order, on which occasions she is afforded the courtesy of treatment as a member of the Royal Family, although the Lord Chamberlain's Diamond Jubilee Guidelines mention the Duchess specifically as being a member of the Royal Family in her own right.
Personal life after divorce
After her divorce, the British tabloids became critical of Sarah's notably open extravagance and lifestyle. The Duchess's commercial interests have included an eleven-year endorsement with Weight Watchers, product development and promotion with Wedgwood and Avon.
Until 2004, the Duke of York and his former wife shared the family's home, Sunninghill Park in Berkshire. That same year, the Duke moved to the refurbished Royal Lodge, previously the home of his grandmother, who resided there until her death in 2002. In 2007, the Duchess rented Dolphin House, and became next door neighbours with her ex-husband. In 2008, a fire broke out at Dolphin House causing Sarah to vacate the premises and move into Royal Lodge with her former husband, the Duke of York.
In 2009, Sarah participated in a much-criticized ITV "experiment" in which Sarah joined families in a council estate (public housing) to provide advice to them on proper living. She stayed for ten days in Northern Moor, a suburb area in Wythenshawe, Manchester, England, and the result was The Duchess on the Estate, transmitted on ITV1 on 18 August 2009. A previous, similar television venture, The Duchess in Hull in which Sarah advised lower-income families on proper diet and behaviour received similar criticism.
In August 2013, Sarah was invited to stay at Balmoral Castle with Andrew and their daughters as guests of the Queen, and in September 2013, in response to a question about the possibility of remarrying Andrew, Sarah said "He’s still my handsome prince, he’ll always be my handsome prince."
Cash for access
In May 2010, Sarah was filmed by News of the World offering access to Prince Andrew for £500,000 by Mazher Mahmood, an undercover reporter posing as an Indian businessman. On the video made as a documentary source for the story, which is publicly available, Sarah is heard to say that "£500,000 when you can, to me, open doors". She is seen taking away a briefcase containing US$40,000 in cash. Exposure surrounding the incident increased Sarah's public profile and notoriety. Sterling Publishers substantially increased the print run of Ashley Learns About Strangers, the Duchess's latest book for children; however, the notoriety did not translate into additional book sales. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Sarah explained her behaviour by saying that she had been drinking prior to soliciting the cash, and was "in the gutter at that moment".
Further debt problems
In March 2011, it was reported that Jeffrey Epstein had helped the Duchess avoid bankruptcy by paying off some of her debts. The payments were reportedly made after intervention from the Duke of York. In the summer of 2011, Finding Sarah aired on the OWN network. One episode of the US-filmed reality series depicted Sarah meeting with Suze Orman, the internationally-known financial advisor, receiving from Ms Orman a strict lecture and practical advice on how to resolve her financial issues.
Criminal charges and international arrest warrant
On 13 January 2012, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Turkey issued an international arrest warrant for the Duchess. She had travelled to Turkey in 2008, and covertly filmed a Turkish State Orphanage. The Turkish authorities alleged that the Duchess made a false declaration when entering the country (in relation to her motives for visiting Turkey), trespassed into a Turkish Government institution and also invaded the privacy of children. These charges carry sentences of up to 22 years imprisonment. Turkey and Britain have an extradition treaty; however, Home Office officials have stated, "Under UK extradition law a judge must order the discharge of [an extradition request] if it is not an offence under UK law and in the country requesting extradition. In this case there is no offence in UK law so there will be no extradition".
Turkey maintains that the Duchess distorted information about the orphanage and utilised an isolated incident in a smear campaign against the Republic of Turkey. Turkey invited international human rights organisations to inspect any orphanage of its choosing to show its transparency in relation to the issue.
On 5 May 2012, the trial began into the charges brought by the Ankara State Prosecutor's office. Cansu Sahin, representing Ferguson, who was not present, told the Ankara court that his client has apologised and would like to plea bargain with the prosecution.
In 1990, The Duchess became patron of The Teenage Cancer Trust and has since opened most of the charities various units, including those at Middlesex Hospital, University College London, St James’s University Hospital, Cardiff University Hospital and Royal Marsden Hospital
In 1993, The Duchess founded Children in Crisis a children’s charity focused on education and grant making to international programs. The Duchess serves as Founder and Life President. In 2003, The Duchess joined the American Cancer Society at a congressional briefing. Sarah, Duchess of York, was a founding supporter of The American Cancer Society's Great American Weigh In, an annual campaign (modelled after the Society's Great American Smoke Out) aimed at raising awareness of the link between excess weight and cancer. In 2006, The Duchess established The Sarah Ferguson Foundation based in Toronto, which derives funds from Sarah's commercial work and private donations with the aim of supporting charities internationally that serve children and families in dire need. Included under this umbrella organisation is her patronage of several British charities, including Mental Disability Rights International, the Teenage Cancer Trust, Tommy's, and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. In 2008, The Duchess became patron of Humanitas, a charity focused on providing children with education, healthcare and family support In 2010, The Duchess became a supporter of The Mullany Fund, whose aim is to support British students wishing to study medicine or physiotherapy. In 2011, The Duchess became the global ambassador for Not For Sale, a charity focused on human slavery. In 2013, The Duchess, along with her former husband, The Duke of York and their daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, founded Key To Freedom, a business structure for women in vulnerable situations in India who can sell their wares through the British retailer Top Shop. In 2014, The Duchess was appointed an ambassador for the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.
- Budgie the Little Helicopter books and 1994 animated children's television series:
- 1989, Budgie the Little Helicopter
- 1989, Budgie at Bendick's Point
- 1991, Budgie and the Blizzard
- 1992, The Adventures of Budgie
- 1993, Budgie Goes to Sea
- 1996, Budgie's Book of Colors
- 1996, Budgie and Pippa Count to Ten!
- 1995, Travels with Queen Victoria
- 1996, My Story (autobiography)
- For young girls:
- 1997, The Royal Switch
- 1997, Bright Lights
- Lifestyle books with Weight Watchers:
- 1998, Dining with The Duchess
- 1999, Dieting with The Duchess
- 2000, Win the Weight Game
- 2001, Reinventing Yourself
- 2002, Energy Breakthrough
- 2003, What I Know Now: Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way
- 2003, Moments. The Duchess published a collection of her photographs in an art book, sold only in Britain, with all proceeds benefiting her UK-based charity, Children in Crisis.
- 2003, Little Red
- 2004, Little Red’s Christmas Story
- 2006, Little Red’s Summer Adventure
- 2008, Tea for Ruby
- 2011, Finding Sarah
- 2012, Ballerina Rosie
In May 2004, Sarah hosted an eleven-minute production featurette on Universal’s DVD 'The Legacy of Pan'. Five months later, Walt Disney Feature Animation released a special DVD The Cat That Looked at a King, with Sarah's voice in the role of the Queen; the story is derived from the Mary Poppins books by P. L. Travers. Sarah had a producing role (credited as "Sarah Ferguson") in the 2009 Jean-Marc Vallée film The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt and featured a background player role for Sarah's daughter Princess Beatrice.
TV and radio
- Health advisor in "The Duchess in Hull" on ITV1.
- In the United Kingdom:
- Guest editor on BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
- Regular contributor to BBC Radio 2's primetime lifestyle show Steve Wright.
- Previously co-produced and served as presenter in a documentary for BBC television called In Search of the Spirit.
- Hosted an 8-part panel talk show on Britain's SkyOne television in 1998.
- Appeared in an episode of the Vicar of Dibley.
- Travelled to Romania and Turkey for the documentary, Duchess and Daughters: their secret mission, shown on ITV1 on 6 November 2008, investigating poor treatment and conditions in children's institutions in those two countries.
- 5 March 2009 – The Graham Norton Show, BBC Two.
- 18 August 2009 – The Duchess on the Estate, ITV1 (about Northern Moor, Manchester).
- 1 September 2009 – Loose Women, ITV1.
- In the United States:
- Special correspondent to the NBC Today Show, with regular "From the Heart" segments that profile inspiring Americans who make extraordinary contributions to others despite formidable personal obstacles.
- Substitute host for CNN's Larry King Live.
- Substitute host for ABC's The View.
- In May 1998, Sarah appeared as herself in the fourth season finale of the television show Friends. She was credited as "Sarah, The Duchess of York".
- Appeared as herself in The Celebrity Apprentice.
- Appeared on The Tyra Banks Show, talking about her work with Weight Watchers and her personal style.
- Appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on 11 May 2011.
- Appeared on mini-series on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Finding Sarah, in June 2011. Talks about her struggles through life with family and finances.
- Appeared on the fourth season of "Project Runway All Stars" in 2014.
- The 2006 title of R&B/Hip Hop singer Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson's debut album, The Dutchess (dutchess is a variant spelling of duchess dating to the 17th century) was a reference to the fact that the two are associated with the same surname. According to various media outlets, the Duchess of York called Fergie after the release of her album and remarked: "Fergie, it's Fergie... Now that you've done this, you have to sing at a concert for my foundation, 'Children in Crisis'." Fergie agreed and committed to charity concerts in London and New York City.
- In November 2006, Sarah was honoured for her AIDS campaigning at the New York AIDS Film Festival.
- In February 2007, Sarah was named Mother of the Year by the American Cancer Society.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 15 October 1959 – 23 July 1986: Miss Sarah Margaret Ferguson
- 23 July 1986 – 30 May 1996: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York
- 30 May 1996 – 21 August 1996: Her Royal Highness Sarah, Duchess of York
- 21 August 1996 – present: Sarah, Duchess of York
Immediately after her divorce she retained the style Her Royal Highness; however on 21 August 1996, letters patent were issued which removed the style from divorced former wives of princes. She remained titled Sarah, Duchess of York in keeping with the standard form of address for former wives of peers.
- Foreign honours
- 1991 – 1995: University of Salford, Chancellor
|Princess Beatrice of York||8 August 1988|
|Princess Eugenie of York||23 March 1990|
Sarah once described her family as "country gentry with a bit of old money". She is descended from both the Stuart and Tudor houses. On her father's side, Sarah is a descendant of King Charles II of England via two of his illegitimate sons, Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, and James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth. By her paternal great-great-grandfather Henry Brand, 2nd Viscount Hampden and her maternal great-grandfather Mervyn Wingfield, 8th Viscount Powerscourt, Sarah also descends from Lady Anne Palmer. Lady Anne was the eldest child of Royal mistress Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland; she was acknowledged by King Charles II and adopted the surname Fitzroy.
She has aristocratic ancestry, being the great great-granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Buccleuch, a great-granddaughter of the 8th Viscount Powerscourt and a direct descendant of James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn and of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire making her a distant cousin of her ex-husband Prince Andrew, Duke of York and also of Diana, Princess of Wales. Her paternal grandmother was Lady Marian Montagu Douglas Scott, a first cousin of Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott, who married Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, an uncle of Queen Elizabeth II.
|Ancestors of Sarah, Duchess of York|
- As a titled royal, Sarah held no surname, but, when one was used, it was Mountbatten-Windsor. After her divorce she resumed the use of her premarital surname.
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I had become Princess Andrew and the Duchess of York, as well as the Countess of Inverness and the Baroness of Killyleagh
- "It's Not Easy Keeping Titles Straight – Just Ask 'Fergie'". Los Angeles Times. 24 July 1986. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
Thus the former Miss Ferguson, as wife of the Duke of York, becomes the Duchess of York and could also be known as the Countess of Inverness and Baroness Killyleagh.
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- Crofts Peerage, Powerscourt, Viscount (I, 1743)
- Crofts Peerage, Leicester, Earl of (UK, 1837)
- Crofts Peerage, Sussex, Earl of (E, 1674–1715)
- Crofts Peerage, Dacre, Baron (E, 1321)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sarah, Duchess of York.|
- The Sarah Ferguson Foundation
- SarahFerguson.com (official website)
- (website for the off-Broadway show about the life of Sarah Ferguson)
- Sarah, Duchess of York at the Internet Movie Database
The Duke of Edinburgh
|Chancellor of the University of Salford
Professor Sir Walter Bodmer