Sarah, Duchess of York Biography

Sarah Ferguson Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Sarah, Duchess of York" (born "Sarah Margaret Ferguson", 15 October 1959) is the former wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, fourth in line to the British throne. She is a former member of the British Royal Family and the mother of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who are respectively fifth and sixth in line to the British throne. She is popularly referred to as 'Fergie,' a nickname she shares with pop singer Stacy Ann Ferguson.


Sarah comes from aristocracy with royal Stuart ancestry. On her father's side, Sarah is a descendant of King Charles II of England from two of his illegitimate sons Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond and James Crofts 'Scott'. She is a great-great-granddaughter of William Montagu-Douglas-Scott, 6th Duke of Buccleuch and a great-granddaughter of Mervyn Wingfield, 8th Viscount Powerscourt. She is also a distant cousin of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, an aunt of Queen Elizabeth II.


Sarah and Prince Andrew's romance began after some scheming to bring them together was orchestrated by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1985. Early in 1986 the couple were engaged and subsequently married in Westminster Abbey on 23 July 1986. Prince Andrew had the title of The Duke of York bestowed upon him by the Queen. Sarah automatically became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York. In 1987, the Duchess became the first lady in the Royal Family to receive her Private Pilot's License. (... more)

The Duke and Duchess of York had two children during their marriage:

Princess Beatrice of York (born 1988)

Princess Eugenie of York (born 1990)


By 1992, the marriage was experiencing trouble and the couple had drifted apart. While her husband was away on military or royal duties, Sarah was frequently seen in the company of other men, most notably Texas multimillionaire Steve Wyatt. (... more) Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson finally agreed to separate in January 1992. Matters came to a head in August 1992, when surreptitiously taken photographs of John Bryan, an American financial manager - in the act of sucking on the toes of a topless Sarah-were published in the British tabloid newspaper The Daily Mirror. The Duchess was exposed to widespread public ridicule, which contributed to her further estrangement from the British Royal Family (... more) . After some 4 years of being officially separated, the Duke and Duchess made the mutual decision to divorce in 1996. The Duke and Duchess of York remain close friends and share in the upbringing of their two daughters.

After the divorce

After her divorce the press criticism was constant, focusing not only on her weight but also on her lifestyle and perceived extravagance. Having forgone a large divorce settlement in the hope of maintaining a civil relationship with the royal family, the Duchess set out in 1996 to establish a commercial and media career in the United States. She felt strongly that she should not work commercially in Britain and opted to commute regularly between her home outside London and paid commitments in the US. In 1996, at the time of her divorce from Prince Andrew, it is said that Fergie owed in excess of £4.2 million pounds to Coutts, the Royal Bank. Through lucrative American contracts she had cleared these debts by 1998.

Having lost weight and discovered new confidence, Sarah felt able to pass on her experience to others as the U.S. spokesperson for Weight Watchers International. The Duchess also brought attention to child obesity and called for efforts to address this problem.

Sarah's other commercial interests have included Wedgwood china, home fragrances for US retailer Bath and Body Works, and a signature line of Moissanite jewelry for K&G. Sarah is also a sought-after public speaker represented by the prestigious Washington Speakers Bureau. Over the course of several years, these activities, as well as the success of her many books, allowed Sarah to overcome the multi-million pound debts she amassed in the 80s and 90s.

Sarah commented in 2003, 'I love the fact that Americans embrace me. I said I was sorry for whatever I had done in the UK, and they embraced me and said, OK, we'll give you a second chance. And they have given me my life back, the American people.' (... more) She now receives fewer intrusive and unflattering media reports in the UK.

Until 2004 the Duke and Duchess shared the family's home, Sunninghill Park, located outside London. That same year, the Duke moved to the refurbished Royal Lodge, the former home of the Queen Mother, who resided there until her death in 2002. The Duchess subsequently moved to New York City, where her lifestyle and media company Hartmoor, LLC is based. When residing in the UK, however, the Duchess lives in a separate suite of rooms in Royal Lodge.

When Susan Barrantes died in 1998, it was disclosed that not only had Sarah always contributed to Ms. Barrantes'

ranch in Argentina, she had also split her divorce money with her mother. Ms. Barrantes had struggled for years to keep her late husband's polo farm. Sarah and her sister Jane have cleared the debts.

Known boyfriends have included John Bryan, and Count Gaddo della Gheradesca. (... more)

Charity work

1993, the Duchess founded (Children in Crisis) based in London with the support of two current trustees: Grahame Harding and Paul Szkiler. Over the years, Children in Crisis has grown to help over 250,000 children annually in 10 countries around the world.

March 2003, she joined the American Cancer Society at a congressional briefing. The Duchess was a founding supporter of (The American Cancer Society's Great American Weigh In) , an annual campaign (modeled after the Society's Great American Smoke Out) aimed at raising awareness of the link between excess weight and cancer.

2005, the Duchess was named a global ambassador for Ronald McDonald House (Charities' World Children's Day) .

2006, the Duchess established (The Sarah Ferguson Foundation) based in New York, which derives funds from the Duchess's commercial work and private donations with the aim of supporting charities internationally that serve children and families in dire need. She visited China, Japan, Poland, Mexico, and cities across the United States.

2007, the Duchess is continuing her multi-continent fundraising and media tour in the US.

In Britain, the Duchess is a long-standing patron to a number of British charities, including the (Teenage Cancer Trust) , (Tommy's) , and the (Motor Neurone Disease Association) .

She is also the official spokesperson of (SOS Children's Villages - USA) .


"Budgie the Little Helicopter" books and animated children's television program:

* 1989, "Budgie the Little Helicopter" (... more)

* 1989, "Budgie at Bendick's Point" (... more)

* 1991, "Budgie and the Blizzard" (... more)

* 1992, "The Adventures of Budgie" (... more)

* 1993, "Budgie Goes to Sea" (... more)

* 1996, "Budgie's Book of Colors" (... more)

* 1996, "Budgie and Pippa Count to Ten!" (... more)

1995, "Travels with Queen Victoria" (... more)

1996, "My Story" (autobiography) (... more)

For young girls:

* 1997, "The Royal Switch" (... more)

* 1997, "Bright Lights" (... more)

Lifestyle books with Weight Watchers:

* 1998, "Dining with The Duchess" (... more)

* 1999, "Dieting with The Duchess" (... more)

* 2000, "Win the Weight Game" (... more)

* 2001, "Reinventing Yourself" (... more)

* 2002, "Energy Breakthrough" (... more)

2003, "What I Know Now: Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way" (... more)

2003, "Reflections". An accomplished amateur photographer, The Duchess published a collection of images in an art book, sold only in Britain, with all proceeds benefiting her UK-based charity, Children in Crisis.

2003, "Little Red" (... more)

2004, "Little Red's Christmas Story" (... more)

2006, "Little Red's Summer Adventure" (... more)

Early 2008, "Hartmoor", Sarah's first historical romance novel set in 1812. (St. Martins Press)


May 2004, the Duchess hosted an eleven-minute production featurette on Universal's DVD 'The Legacy of Pan.'

October 2004, Walt Disney Feature Animation released a special DVD 'The Cat That Looked At A King', with the Duchess's voice in the role of the Queen. The story is derived from the books of Mary Poppins by PL Travers.

The Duchess of York will have a producing role in the latest Martin Scorsese film about the early years of Queen Victoria's rule, Young Victoria. The movie, to be scripted by Julian Fellowes, who wrote Gosford Park, will focus on the often turbulent period after she became queen at the age of 18, and her romance and marriage to Prince Albert. Film production is due to begin by mid-2007.

TV and Radio

In the United Kingdom:

* Guest editor on BBC Radio 4 'Today? program.

* 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.?

* 1998, hosted an 8-part panel talk show on Britain's SkyOne television.

* Appeared in an episode of the 'Vicar of Dibley'.

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.

* Appeared as herself in the popular American sitcom Friends, "The One with Ross's Wedding (Part 1)".

* Tyra Banks Show, talking about her work with Weight Watchers and her personal style.

Cultural references

1989, the Duchess' marriage is mentioned in the Sue Townsend book "Adrian Mole: The true confessions of." 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. (... more)

May 1998, appeared as herself in an episode of the television show "Friends" when Ross Geller was married in London during the show's fourth season finalé (... more) . She was erroneously credited as 'Sarah, "The" Duchess of York'.

2006, the title of R&B/Hip Hop singer Stacy 'Fergie' Ferguson's debut album, "The Dutchess" (... more) was a reference to the fact that the two share the same surname. According to various media outlets, Sarah Ferguson 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'.' (... more) Fergie agreed and committed to two charity concerts, in London and New York City.

November 2006, The Duchess was honored for her AIDS campaigning at the (New York AIDS Film Festival) .

February 2007, The Duchess 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 Ferguson

"23 July 1986 - 1996": "Her Royal Highness" The Duchess of York

"1996 -": Sarah, Duchess of York

Sarah Ferguson's full style during her marriage was "Her Royal Highness, The Princess Andrew", "Duchess of York", "Countess of Inverness and Baroness Killyleagh"

External links

(The Sarah Ferguson Foundation)

( Duchess of York Candle Collection from Bath & Body Works)



This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Sarah, Duchess of York.