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Archive for the ‘Sarah, the Duchess of York (Fergie)’ Category

Kate Middleton attends a wedding in London, August 2009. Her Fascinator headpiece matches her lavender and white coat dress.

Kate Middleton looks good in just about anything – including traditional British hats, particularly the Fascinator. Worn at fancy society events, the Fascinator headpiece is an alternative to a full brimmed hat and often includes feathers, flowers, and beads. It’s often placed on the side of the head or at the back.

In May 2006, Kate Middleton wore a feather Fascinator to the wedding of Harry Lopes and Laura Parker Bowles.

Fashion watchers are wondering whether Kate Middleton will bring the Fascinator to America, now that women across the globe are snapping up her fashion picks from coats to dresses to engagement rings. British Designers who appeal to a younger set like ASOS and John Lewis have been starting to stock modern Fascinators in their boutiques.

Princess Beatrice of York wears a butterfly fascinator at Peter Phillips' 2008 wedding to Autumn Kelly at Windsor Castle.

The Fascinator was previously worn by an older set, but it’s lately been popularized by younger British celebrities and royals, particularly Princess Beatrice of York, who sports the most flamboyant hats of all.

Sarah, the Duchess of York, AKA "Fergie," in foreground, followed by the Princesses of York, Eugenie and Beatrice. All wear Fascinator headpieces.

Readers, for more on this blog on Kate Middleton and the British Royal Family, click here.

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Princess Diana, 1997

Following her 1996 divorce from Prince Charles, Princess Diana downsized her life. She reduced her Kensington Palace staff to cleaner, cook, and dresser with Paul Burrell filling in the gaps as her man Friday. The police, not the Royal Protection Squad, accompanied her to public events. She pared down the list of charities she supported from 100 to 6.  

She culled her wardrobe, throwing out dresses that reminded her of her previous life, famously donating 79 of them to charity at a June 1997 Christie’s auction, including the black dress she wore while dancing with actor John Travolta at the White House in 1985.

American Actor John Travolta and Princess Diana of Great Britain dance at the White House, 1985.

She changed her friends. She dumped old confidante Elton John after he acted as a go-between with her and fashion designer Gianni Versace for Versace’s 1997 coffee-table book Rock and Royalty.  Diana blamed John for carelessly placing a photograph of the Princess and her sons in the book amid a portfolio of semi-nude male models, which Diana rightly feared would upset the Queen

In July 1997, Diana did make up with Elton John, consoling him at Versace’s memorial service. 

Princess Diana comforts rock star Elton John at the 1997 memorial for slain fashion designer Gianni Versace

By the end of August, Diana, too, would be dead, and John would play the piano at her funeral. In 2008, John reflected on Princess Diana’s last year:

I think in the end…Diana trusted the wrong people. She didn’t trust the people she should have trusted, her true friends. I always thought the people that really felt for her and really were true to her she just was a bit airy fairy towards in the end.”

Fergie was another of Diana’s old friends that got the heave-ho in the last year of her life. This rupture was also a result of the publication of a book.

Back in 1985, Sarah, the Duchess of York, and Princess Diana were close friends.

In her memoir, My Story: by Sarah, the Duchess of York, the divorced duchess shared that she and Diana wore the same size of shoes and often shared them.  Fergie claimed that she caught a verruca—a plantar wart – after wearing a pair of Diana’s shoes.

Diana was aghast that her old friend and former sister-in-law would portray her in such unflattering detail just to make a buck. Despite Fergie’s repeated apologies, Diana would not forgive her. She never spoke to Fergie again.

Brown, Tina. “Diana’s Final Heartbreak,” Vanity Fair, July 2007.

For more on Princess Diana, click here.

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Sarah Ferguson watches polo at Windsor with Princess Diana, in 1985, the year before she married into the British Royal Family and became the Duchess of York

Sarah Ferguson –  “Fergie” –  and Princess Diana (1961-1997) knew each other for six years before Fergie married Prince Andrew in 1986 and became a member of the Royal Family. The two women had first met on the polo circuit, as Diana’s husband Prince Charles was an avid player and Fergie’s father, Sir Ronald Ferguson, was the Prince’s polo manager.

Soon after meeting, Diana and Fergie (b. 1959) became fast friends. The timid and reserved Diana was intoxicated by Fergie’s loud and breezy energy:

“The two girls would burn up the telephone wires trading gossip and irreverent royal tidbits they could share with no one else.” (1)

Since Diana’s 1981 wedding to Charles, she had been starved of fun. Diana thought about how lovely it would be to have Fergie as a mate in the Royal Family. In June of 1985, Diana decided to play royal matchmaker and make it happen. She wangled an invitation for Fergie to not only attend the Queen’s Ascot Week house party at Windsor Castle , but managed also to get the boisterous redhead seated next to the Queen’s second son, the 25-year-old Prince Andrew, a very eligible bachelor and second in line for the throne.

Sarah, the Duchess of York ("Fergie") and Diana, Princess of Wales, 1987

Within an hour of meeting Fergie, Andrew was “chatting her up” and “flirtatiously coaxing a merry-eyed Ms. Ferguson to eat every one of the chocolate profiteroles [cream puffs] on her plate.” (1) A year later, Fergie and Andrew were married at Westminster Abbey as the Duke and Duchess of York. Di had gotten her ally in the family.

This commemorative stamp was issued in Great Britain in 1986 to commemorate the Royal Wedding of Prince Andrew to Miss Sarah Ferguson. They became the Duke and Duchess of York.

 
Encouraged by Fergie’s wildness, Diana began to loosen up publicly. She became a bit of a royal daredevil. Memorably, in June 1987, she and Fergie were photographed at Royal Ascot poking Fergie’s old school friend Lulu in the behind with their umbrellas, called “brollies” in England.  (2) 

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York (l), and Princess Diana (r) attend the Royal Ascot, June 1987.

The Ascot Umbrella Caper – dubbed “the Brolly Folly” – drew public scorn. Woodrow Wyatt recorded in his memoirs that his wife saw Diana at Ascot

fooling about in the most childish manner, pulling people’s hair and tweaking them.”

The Sun reported the incident, referring to Fergie and Diana caustically as “silly, simpering girls.” It was the first of many desperate attempts Diana and Fergie made to “unstiffen” royal protocol. 

Over time, the fallout from the bad press would affect Diana and Fergie differently. Diana would weather the public criticism better than Fergie. With Diana’s tragic death, charity work, and sad marriage, the public has been more forgiving of her wild days. The late Princess Diana is lovingly remembered today as the People’s Princess.

Fergie, however, at age 50, continues to court disaster with her impetuous ways and money woes. Matter of fact, with the latest bribery scandal and “Oprah” TV appearance, the Duchess of York is being referred to in the press as the Duchess of Disaster. 

 
 
 

An image made from video shows the Duchess of York apparently selling access to ex-husband Prince Andrew for 500,000 British pounds to an undercover reporter from the UK tabloid, "News of the World." (foxnews.com_May 24, 2010)

(1) Brown, Tina. The Diana Chronicles. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

(2) “Births, Deaths, & Marriages.” Thirty Years of Majesty. Vol. 31, No. 5.

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quoted from 

The Duchess of York’s Toe Scandal

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew wave to the crowds following their 1986 wedding at Westminster Abbey, London.

“By 1992, the marriage between [British] Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson [Fergie] (the Duke and Duchess of York) was faltering. The Duchess was with various men including Texan multimillionaire Steve Wyatt, while her husband was away on royal duties. They agreed to separate in January 1992, but in August 1992, surreptitiously taken photographs of John Bryan, an American financial manager — apparently in the act of sucking on the toes of a topless Sarah in Southern France — were published in the British tabloid The Daily Mirror.

John Bryan sucks the toes of a topless Duchess of York, August, 1992, the Daily Mirror.

“The Duchess was at Balmoral [Scotland] with the rest of the Royal Family when the story broke. Prince Philip handed her a copy of the paper and quipped “there but for the grace of God go I.” (Notoriously picky Duke of Edinburgh liked Sarah as much as he detested Diana). The Queen was less amused; the Queen’s private secretary told the Duchess that she might feel better if she left immediately to London, effectively banishing her from the royal household. She would never be reinvited back to Balmoral until 2008. The only feeble defense both Fergie and John Bryan could muster up was that he hadn’t been sucking her toes, he was simply kissing the instep of her foot.”

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