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Is This Royal Romance Causing a Rift Between the Queen and Prince Philip?

"Her Majesty has grown more accepting [but] the Duke's objections are a sticking point."

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at tea time at the royal retreat this week. Just when it looked as if Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, were inching toward officially getting Queen Elizabeth's approval on getting back together during their recent stay at Balmoral, Her Majesty's favorite retreat in the Scottish highlands, things have taken an awkward turn with the arrival of Prince Philip.

The famously friendly exes, who married in 1986 and divorced in 1996 (but lived together after their spilt), have had the royal rumor mill working overtime with speculation that they may be getting remarried. I reported back in 2018 that the Queen was not in favor of a remarriage, but Her Majesty may be warming to the idea. In recent years, the Queen has included Fergie at several events, including Royal Ascot, while Philip has maintained his reportedly strong dislike of his ex-daughter-in-law since her headline-making spilt from Andrew.

"Her Majesty has grown more accepting of her sons' relationships in recent years," a royal source disclosed to me. "She eventually came around to Charles marrying Camilla, but in the case of Andrew and Sarah, the Duke's objections are a sticking point."

Sarah and Andrew have been spotted together with increasing frequency in the past year, including their joint appearance at their younger daughter Princess Eugenie's wedding in the fall of 2018. "Sarah and Andrew have never been closer," the insider said. "They've always had feelings for one another and now, it seems, something has changed and they seem intent on being more public with their relationship. But the Duke of Edinburgh does not approve and it's causing some tension."

So, when Philip arrived unexpectedly early at Balmoral this past weekend, Fergie was forced to bolt and was spotted on a British Airways flight back home on Sunday. A source told the Daily Mail: "In previous years the duchess has left the day before the Queen's husband arrives. This year he arrived several days earlier than expected, which is rather strange, so the duchess left."

As if having being named in the exhaustive coverage of Jeffrey Epstein's death wasn't enough to deal with, Andrew now has to face his father—who insiders tell me is "livid" about having his son's name mixed up with the accused pedophile who committed suicide last week—without Fergie by his side.

The Duchess of York has remained an outsider for decades and was not invited to Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011. When Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in 2019, she was invited, but was not seated with Andrew and their daughters, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, at St. George's Chapel. Nonetheless, the duchess made sure the press recorded how happy she was to be included in the festivities. "The duchess took it as a good sign and was hopeful the family's feelings towards her were finally changing," my royal source said.

But, for the Queen's reportedly favorite son, his notoriously opinionated father may be the final stumbling block to remarrying Sarah. "Andrew is also quite strong-willed, but the Queen will not go against Philip's wishes on this," the insider added. "It's a delicate situation." And for more about royal nuptials of the past, check out the 30 Most Fascinating Facts About Royal Weddings.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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