The rise and fall of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

Duchess of York said the family is ‘a united front’ despite Epstein scandal

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sarah Ferguson has offered renewed support to her ex-husband Prince Andrew, describing him as “a very good and kind man”.

After Andrew was told to keep out of public view at the Garter Day service at Windsor Castle, the Duchess of York spoke to Times Radio of her experience of being married to him. “I think my life is an amazing life, I think I’ve been very lucky,” she said.

The couple married in 1986 in a lavish spectacle that was watched by a global audience of 500 million, and have remained remarkably good friends despite separating in 1992. But more recently the Duke of York has been dogged by accusations of a lack of judgement over his links with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and accusations that he sexually abused Virginia Giuffre when she was 17. He denied the claims and paid a financial settlement to his accuser earlier this year.

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How did they meet?

Princess Diana reportedly played a key role in setting up the pair. Sarah, the daughter of Prince Charles’s polo manager Major Ronald Ferguson, was one of Diana’s childhood friends, and they reconnected in 1980. According to Vanity Fair, Diana recommended that the then 26-year-old Sarah be invited to an event at Windsor Castle during Royal Ascot in 1985. It was there that the future couple met.

They married a year later, on 23 July 1986, at Westminster Abbey in London. On their wedding day, the Queen gave the couple the title of Duke and Duchess of York. Around 2,000 guests joined the couple at the abbey, including Nancy Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

Why did they split up?

After having Princess Beatrice in 1988, followed by Princess Eugenie two years later, “the rumour mill went into overdrive that Andrew and Fergie’s relationship was on the rocks”, says Cosmopolitan.

The couple announced plans for an “amicable split” in 1992. Following the divorce, which was finalised in 1996, “Fergie was criticised for certain areas of her lifestyle but has since rebuilt her public image and slipped back into the House of Windsor, sparking rumours she and the Duke may remarry”, says The Sun.

The couple are still divorced, but live together. In 2019, ahead of Andrew’s controversial Newsnight interview, the Duchess wrote on Instagram: “It is time for Andrew to stand firm now, and that he has, and I am with him every step of the way and that is my honour. We have always walked tall and strong, he for me and me for him. We are the best examples of joint parenting.”

What else has Fergie said about the Epstein scandal?

Just as it seemed that “the whole world has turned on the Duke of York”, including members of his own family, he was reminded that he “still has one ally left: his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson”, said The Times this week.

“The York family are a united front and we stand very strong and very tall,” she told Metro. “When the winds get violent, we keep standing.”

The Duchess previously said in 2011: “I cannot state more strongly that I know a terrible, terrible error of judgment was made, my having anything do with Jeffrey Epstein. What he did was wrong and for which he was rightly jailed.”

And although she publicly declared that she would stand by Andrew “every step of the way”, The Telegraph claimed that behind closed doors she was “staggered” to discover the 2019 Newsnight interview had gone ahead. The 50-minute grilling by Emily Maitlis, in which Andrew responded with a series of bizarre answers, was widely seen as disastrous. One source said Sarah accepted the interview was a “car crash”.

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