Sarah Ferguson Says Princess Diana Would Have Been Proud of Meghan Markle & Kate Middleton
Rumor has it that the late Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, were known to have had issues with each other during the last year of Diana's life. But there was a time when the two royals were good friends.
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and Diana, Princess of Wales, were said to be best of friends at one point in time. In fact, the two women had a lot in common.
However, in the last years of Princess Diana's life, the two women were not on speaking terms, and to date, it remains unclear why that was.
Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah, Duchess of York during the 50th Anniversary of The Battle of Britain Parade, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, on September 15, 1990 in, London, United Kingdom. | Photo: Getty Images
On October 15, 1959, Sarah Ferguson was born in London to Susan and Major Ronald Ferguson. In her book, "My Story: Sarah the Duchess of York," she revealed that they lived a comfortable life despite not being considered aristocracy.
Though the Duchess was not regarded as royal, she came from a privileged background and had several ties to the throne. After her parents divorced in 1974, Sarah and her elder sister Jane stayed with their father, and they grew up on a family farm in Hampshire.
The "Finding Sarah" star attended Hurst Lodge School in Ascot as she got older. During an appearance on a Swedish television show, Sarah divulged that one of her first jobs involved cleaning toilets and mirrors when she was eighteen.
Sarah Ferguson and Lady Diana Spencer pictured watching Polo At Cowdray Park Polo Club in Cowdray, United Kingdom. / Source: Getty Images
The "My Story" author also took up waitressing in a strudel house throughout the 1970s before landing a job at a graphics firm. But Sarah was not the only royal to have had a "normal" job before becoming royalty.
The Princess of Wales, who was Lady Diana at the time, spent the 70s as a kindergarten teacher before meeting Prince Charles in 1977.
By 1980, Sarah and Diana quickly became friends. Though TownandCountry.com reported that the pair had known each other since adolescence, it was not until Sarah's early twenties that they started to become close.
Princess Diana with the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson during a skiing holiday in Klosters, Switzerland, on March 9, 1988. / Source: Getty Images
The publication added the duo enjoyed weekly lunch dates together and that Diana would often call upon her pal as she struggled with her new role as Princess of Wales.
The People's Princess also played cupid after introducing the Duchess of York to Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. Sarah disclosed that Diana was always there as her relationship with Prince Andrew became more public, guiding her through the media craziness.
As well as being sisters-in-law, it turns out the two royal women were related by blood because the pair are reportedly fourth cousins.
Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson at the Royal Ascot races in Ascot, England in 1991. / Source: Getty Images
Their shared ancestor is Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire, born a Spencer and who was portrayed by Keira Knightly in the 2008 film "The Duchess."
Like them, Diana and Sarah's mothers, Susan Barrantes and Frances Shand Kydd, were also friends from their school days. Sarah wrote about the age difference between her and Diana in her 1996 biography:
"She was two years younger than I, and I strove to support and protect her as I would a younger sister – as I still do today, as a best friend."
PRINCESS DIANA INVITED THE DUCHESS TO HER WEDDING
Princess Diana with her sister-in-law Sarah, Duchess of York, both wearing large hats at Epsom Downs. / Source: Getty Images
When Princess Diana married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981, she had invited Sarah – affectionately known as Fergie, to her wedding and gave her a piece of fabric to have made into a dress for the event.
The Princess of Wales and the future king of England got engaged after only 12 dates and were married within six months at St. Paul's Cathedral.
The wedding was televised and seen by around 750 million people worldwide. At the same time, the streets of London were flooded with about 600,000 people to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.
The Princess of Wales, Diana, accompanied by Sarah Ferguson on a visit to HMS Brazen, by the River Thames on February 5, 1986 in London, United Kingdom. / Source: Getty Images
Meanwhile, Sarah joined the Royal Family in 1986 when she wed Prince Andrew. Princess Diana gave the couple a nudge when she convinced the Queen to invite Sarah to a private Windsor gathering.
Royal biographer Ingrid Seward wrote in her 1991 book, "Sarah: HRH The Duchess of York," that Sarah was the obvious choice for Diana to invite:
"She was the obvious choice. The right age, the right background, and already on familiar terms with the Royal Family."
Princess Diana, Prince William, Prince Andrew and Sarah, the Duchess of York photographed in Windsor. / Source: Getty Images
Sarah was offered a seat beside the Duke of York for Ascot lunch and dinner. The Princess of Wales helped her infiltrate the Royal Family after her wedding to the prince. Seward noted it was not a coincidence that she sat next to her future husband:
"The Princess, an incorrigible romantic, may have been trying her hand at a little matchmaking."
When Sarah and Prince Andrew finally hit it off, Diana gave her enthusiastic encouragement for the royal romance to blossom.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Sarah, Duchess of York, Princess Diana and Prince Harry on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for Trooping The Color. / Source: Getty Images
Sarah revealed to People TV: "It was Diana that said, 'No, no, I need you to come to stay at Windsor Castle, and you need to be with my brother-in-law Andrew," speaking on her meeting with the prince at the royal event.
After lunch, Sarah told the princess that Prince Andrew was charming after she first saw him. Diana then responded: "Duh, Fergie."
The Duchess disclosed that Princess Diana had a "terrific sense of humor" and the "most wonderful, infectious giggles" that brought a smile to her face. Sarah also mentioned that the royal "taught her so much about the public life."
SARAH & DIANA MADE A PACT TO DIVORCE THEIR SPOUSES AT THE SAME TIME
The Princess of Wales and the Duchess of York on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Color ceremony in June 1991. / Source: Getty Images
However, both Sarah and Diana's marriages ended in divorce. The Duchess and the Duke officially divorced in May 1996, while Princess Diana and the Prince of Wales divorced in August 1996.
Interestingly, in April 2021, Womanandhome.com reported that the two royal women made a pact to leave their marriages simultaneously.
Royal sources revealed the Princess of Wales had agreed to leave her marriage to the Prince of Wales during the same period as Sarah's separation from Prince Andrew. After bonding over their shared marital woes, the ladies made a secret pact.
Sarah, Duchess of York and Diana, Princess of Wales during the Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 1988 in Norfolk, England. / Source: Getty Images
Both struggled in their respective marriages to the princes and had reportedly conspired to wreak havoc for the Royal Family by coinciding with their separation dates. Sarah was allegedly the first to propose the idea after bonding with Diana over their unhappy relationships.
The mistress, Lesley Player of Sarah's father Ronald, made the revelations and claimed the Princess of Wales had initially agreed to the plot.
Princess Diana with Prince Charles, Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew at The Royal Ascot race meeting in June 1990. / Source: Getty Images
However, things did not go as planned. According to Diana's lover, James Hewitt, the princess backed out due to pressure from the Royal Family, saying:
"There was no way the Palace would let both royal couples announce they were splitting up at the same time. Diana had been informed in no uncertain terms that the effect on the Royal Family would be disastrous."
Nevertheless, the princess took heed of the advice and avoided the ramifications that would come after her plan with Sarah was set into motion. She tried to make her marriage work despite being well aware of Prince Charles' infidelity.
The Duke and Duchess of York with The Prince and Princess of Wales pictured in Klosters, Switzerland. / Source: Getty Images
On the other hand, Sarah remained adamant about seeing that she followed through with the plan and separated from Prince Andrew. Later, photos of herself and her lover, Steve Wyatt, made headlines in the tabloids, and she knew there was no salvaging her marriage.
The global humanitarian and the Duke of York announced their separation in March 1992, which marked the end of her obligation to royal engagements.
Meanwhile, Diana reportedly minimized contact with her after she departed from the Royal Family, making her rocky marriage to the Prince of Wales her main focus.
Diana, Princess of Wales and Charles, Prince of Wales pictured riding in an open carriage as they attend the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on July 23, 1986 in London, United Kingdom. / Source: Getty Images
But that was not for long. The princess's efforts to reconnect with her spouse were unsuccessful. Prince Charles had been involved in an ongoing affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall, since the onset of his marriage to Princess Diana.
Consequently, the royal couple announced their separation in December 1992, and the pair divorced four years later in August 1996.
SARAH AND DIANA PROMISED TO BE TOGETHER FOREVER
Princess Diana with Sarah, Duchess of York at a Banquet at Claridges Hotel in London. / Source: Getty Images
While Sarah and Diana had a meaningful friendship over the years, things later turned sour as they became rivals. When speaking of reports that the ladies had a fall out before Diana's passing in August 1997, the Duchess told People in July 2021:
"We promised each other we would always be together. There was never any daylight between us. But everybody wanted that because we were so strong together. People want to break something so strong."
Be that as it may, Sarah and Diana had not spoken in a year before the Princess of Wales's death. Sarah admitted the experience was disheartening.
Princess of Wales, Princess Anne, Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at the Whitehall annual Remembrance Service on November 8, 1987. / Source: Getty Images
"The saddest thing, in the end, we hadn't spoken for a year, though I never knew the reason, except that once Diana got something in her head..." said Sarah.
The Duchess noted that she tried writing to her and thought that whatever happened did not matter and they could sort out their differences. She was confident that the princess would reach out to her and eventually did.
"In fact, the day before she died, she ringed my friend and said to her: "Where's that Red? I want to talk to her," Sarah revealed. Sadly, that never came to be.
Diana, Princess of Wales during her three day visit to Bosnia - Herzegovina on August 10, 1997. / Source: Getty Images
Sarah Diana had a complex friendship over the years. When the best-selling author published her autobiography "My Story" in 1996, it proved to be the reason behind their fallout.
The Evening Standards' royal editor Robert Jobson said Sarah made it clear that she would write a book, and Diana was supportive of that. "But she said, 'I don't want you to mention me at all,'" he revealed.
However, in her biography, Sarah did mention the princess, stating that she helped her by giving her all her shoes "(and less happily, her plantar warts)." The reference to plantar warts, otherwise known as verrucas, meant the duo did not communicate for a year before Diana passed.
Princess Diana pregnant with Prince William at Windsor Polo with Sarah Ferguson on June 6, 1982. / Source: Getty Images
Royal author Katie Nicholl said: "I think Sarah made many attempts to make it up, but Diana bore a bridge. She could really bear a grudge."
Jobson added that the two ladies could have made amends for their relationship, but that did not happen, which was a shame. Moreover, Sarah was told Diana wanted to find her right before the fatal accident in Paris.
SARAH BELIEVES SHE AND DIANA WOULD STILL BE CLOSE TODAY
The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson arriving at The British American Business Council Los Angeles 54th Annual Christmas Luncheon at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel on December 13, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. / Source: Getty Images
"Oh my goodness, can you imagine the grandmother races we would have together? The parties, I would bounce her off the bouncy castle, that's for sure."
She noted that the princess would outrun her as she always did. "She was like a gazelle. And, of course, you know her tinkering laughter. What a beautiful woman," said Sarah.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex pictured arriving to attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham estate on December 25, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. / Source: Getty Images
On how she would have felt about her daughters-in-law, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, Sarah said Princess Diana would have been brimming with pride:
"She would be proud of her sons and their wives. I know if she were sitting with me right now, I know she would say, 'I am so proud of both of my boys and the wonderful wives they have chosen. Because each has got her own voice."
When asked about how the princess would have reacted to Megxit, Sarah said: "I think that what she would have been is very proud of her boys standing tall and firm. They're very like her, and I think that she would be proud."
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