Prince Philip Banned Fergie From the Royal Family—Here's What Brought Her Back

Sarah, Duchess of York was photographed with the royal family on Christmas Day.

One member of the British royal family just made a major return to the spotlight. On Christmas Day, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York—aka Fergie—walked alongside the royal family when they attended service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England. But while it's a tradition for the royals to be photographed outside of the church on Christmas, Fergie has not taken part for years—reportedly due to her falling out with the late Prince Philip.

RELATED: Sarah Ferguson Says Constant Princess Diana Comparisons Caused "Self-Hatred."

Fergie married Prince Andrew in 1986, and they welcomed two children together, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, before divorcing in 1996. In the years since, they former couple have remained close and have lived together since 2008, according to Page Six. Fergie has stuck by Andrew's side despite his ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, which saw Andrew pay a multimillion dollar settlement to accuser Virginia Giuffre while maintaining his innocence against her claims of sexual abuse. In light of his involvement in the scandal, Andrew stepped back from royal duties in 2019.

But while Fergie has remained part of the family in private and a public figure through her own ventures, she hadn't associated publicly with the royals in recent years. This was reportedly because Philip banned her from royal events. Page Six reports that he was upset that Fergie supposedly tried to sell access to Andrew to a reporter and because photos of her with another man were published by the tabloids while she was still married. W magazine reported that Philip was also confused by Fergie and Andrew continuing to live together even though they were divorced.

Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, and Princess Beatrice outside St. Mary Magdalene Church on Christmas Day 2023
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Toward the end of his life, Philip and Fergie were spotted together again. They both attended Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in May 2018, and then they were photographed next to each other in the official family portrait from Eugenie's wedding to Jack Brooksbank in October 2018. This was reportedly the first time they had been photographed together in 26 years.

According to Page Six, Fergie's return to the Christmas walk at Sandringham was King Charles III's doing. He reportedly invited her to spend Christmas with the family last year, as well.

"Sarah has always been close to the king and is fond of him, and she has increasingly grown closer to the queen [Camilla]," a source said. "She's always been loyal to the family and has really not put a foot wrong in recent years. She's never said a critical word and is always extremely loyal to the institution."

Another source said, "Fergie is really the glue that holds the Yorks together. She's devoted to her girls and grandchildren and lives with the duke day to day and has seen him through this difficult period, which has been appreciated by the wider family."

When Fergie shared a Christmas message for her Instagram followers, many of them expressed that they were happy to see her at Sandringham. "So lovely to see you at the church Sarah!!!! I screamed 'Fergie's there!!'" wrote one follower. Another fan commented, "Loved seeing you with the Old Gang!!" Another Instagram user shared, "Absolutely loved you being there, Fergie!!! Your presence is exciting."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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