Sarah, Duchess of York
|Duchess of York (more)|
|Sarah, Duchess of York in 2008|
|Spouse||Prince Andrew, Duke of York
(m. 1986, div. 1996)
|Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
|House||House of Windsor|
|Father||Major Ronald Ferguson|
15 October 1959 |
Marylebone, London, England
|Occupation||Charity patron, spokesperson, writer, film producer, television personality|
|Religion||Anglican (Church of England)|
Sarah, Duchess of York (Sarah Margaret; née Ferguson; born 15 October 1959) is a British charity patron, spokesperson, writer, film producer, television personality and a member of the British Royal Family. She is the former wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, to whom she was married from 1986 until their divorce in 1996. She is often popularly referred to as "Fergie".
The Duchess is the younger daughter of Major Ronald Ferguson and Susan Barrantes (née Wright). Her children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York, are respectively fifth and sixth in the line of succession to the thrones of 16 independent Commonwealth realms.
Early life 
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 remarried 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) and Sarah Ferguson announced their engagement. Prince Andrew had known Miss 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. With her marriage, she attained the rank of Princess of the United Kingdom.
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, the marriage was in trouble, and the couple had drifted apart. 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. Prince Andrew and the 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 August 1996, Letters patent were issued with general rules to regulate royal titles after divorce. In accordance, as she was no longer married to the Duke of York, Sarah lost the style Her Royal Highness. 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".
After 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 has asserted that she declined to press for a large divorce settlement, in order to maintain cordial relations with the British Royal Family; her actual settlement included £350,000 in cash provided by the Queen which had no restrictions on its use and £500,000 provided by the Queen for purchase of a home without restriction. In addition, Sarah was not compelled to sign confidentiality agreements as part of her marital dissolution, allowing her to profit by writing of her former life in the Royal family; this paved the way for her to receive £2.2 million from writing her (first) autobiography. Sarah became a U.S. spokesperson for Weight Watchers International in 1997, a contractual relationship that concluded in 2008. Sarah's other commercial interests have included endorsement and product development for Wedgwood china 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. It was criticised as a "hatchet job" by Councillor Glynn Evans . A previous, similar television venture, "The Duchess In Hull" in which Sarah advised lower-income families on proper diet and behaviour received similar criticism.
Sarah revealed that she regretted divorcing Prince Andrew. When Finding Sarah, a six-part reality show produced by an American cable network, was being filmed, she was filmed saying: "I wish we'd never got divorced". She spoke about how she wished she "could go back and be the bride again". She admits that she still loves Prince Andrew. She was reported to have said: "I'm still in love with Prince Andrew and I want him back". She does not rule out rekindling their relationship.
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. For instance, 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. Sarah excused her behaviour in an interview with Oprah Winfrey by saying that she had been drinking prior to soliciting the cash, and was "in the gutter at that moment".
Further debt problems 
In April 2010, a claim against the Duchess was made by Davenport Lyons, a London firm of solicitors, for a reported £200,000 in unpaid legal fees. It was reported in August 2010 that the Duchess might declare voluntary bankruptcy with debts of £5 million, though other sources have suggested she owes about £2 million.
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.
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 her. 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. If convicted, she faces 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". Turkish Ministry of Justice officials have stated that they will issue an International Interpol arrest warrant for the Duchess thus preventing her from travelling abroad to countries which have an extradition treaty with Turkey. On 17 January 2012, the Duchess cancelled her planned trip to the United States of America for fear of being arrested and extradited to Turkey. Turkey and the United States of America are two NATO allies who have a broadly defined extradition treaty. It has been reported that the Duchess has cancelled all trips abroad for fear of being arrested and extradited to Turkey. Turkey has recently as part of its bid to join the European Union been incorporated into the European justice framework and accordingly has extradition treaties with many countries within Europe.
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 in order 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 Sarah Ferguson (as she is referred to in the Turkish Court proceedings), who was not present, told the Ankara court that his client has apologized and would like to plea bargain with the prosecution.
Charity work 
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 2008, The Duchess became patron of Humanitas, a charity focused on providing children with education, healthcare and family support
- 2010, The Duchess became a supporter of The Mullany Fund, whose aim is to support UK students wishing to study medicine or physiotherapy.
- 2011, The Duchess became the global ambassador for Not For Sale, a charity focused on human slavery
- Budgie the Little Helicopter books and 1994 animated children’s television series:
- 1995, Travels with Queen Victoria
- 1996, My Story (autobiography)
- For young girls:
- Lifestyle books with Weight Watchers:
- 2003, What I Know Now: Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way
- 2003, Reflections. 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.
Cultural references 
- Sarah's marriage is mentioned in the Sue Townsend book The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole. It mentions Mr. Mole calling Buckingham Palace and asking for the Duchess, and also him sending her a note to meet him outside the gates of Buckingham Palace to run away with him as she is his soul mate.
- In the 1992 Bottom episode "Digger", the Duchess is rejected with great disgust as a potential match for Eddie when visiting a dating service, giving an outcry of "Do you mind?! I'm a respectable man!"
- In 'Animals,' a 1994 episode of The Vicar of Dibley, Vicar Geraldine Granger (Dawn French) says a blessing for the Royal Family's pets, finishing, "...and anything sat on by the Duchess of York." The Duchess would later appear as herself in an episode of the series when the Duchess returns to the vicarage to retrieve her tiara from the previous evening's party.
- From 1995 onwards, the character of The Girlfriend in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is thought to be based on, or has similarities to (in terms of her acceptance by the rest of the Royal Family) the Duchess.
- In May 2000, in the American sitcom Will & Grace episode "My Best Friend's Tush," the characters Grace Adler (Debra Messing) and Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) visit a taco restaurant to find Helena Barnes (Joan Collins). While there, Karen, under her alias Anastasia Beaverhousen, claims to see "The Duchess of York". In shock, Grace asks "Do you think that Weight Watchers knows about this?"
- Fictitiously represented on MTV's stop-motion program Celebrity Deathmatch, wherein celebrity's fight to the death. She suffered a rather humiliating defeat at the hands of Anna Nicole Smith.
- The 2006 title of R&B/Hip Hop singer Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson's debut album, The Dutchess (dutchess is a Middle English spelling of duchess) 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
Sarah's full title during her marriage was: Her Royal Highness The Princess Andrew Albert Christian Edward, Duchess of York, Countess of Inverness, Baroness Killyleagh.
Immediately after her divorce she retained the style Her Royal Highness; however on 21 August 1996 letters patent were issued which removed the title 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.
|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 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|
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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