Every family has one–the unpredictable aunt whose bad behavior can be a source of unending embarrassment.
In the British royal family, that person is Sarah, Duchess of York, mother of the newly engaged Princess Eugenie and aunt to Princes Williams and Harry.
News of Eugenie’s engagement to former nightclub manager Jack Brooksbank has brought “Fergie,” as she was dubbed by the British press when she married Prince Andrew in 1986, back into the spotlight. The royal outcast wasted no time indulging in the type of bizarre behavior that got her banished from “The Firm.”
Thanks to the humiliating end to her marriage in 1996 and some very public missteps surrounding her behavior towards the royal family, Sarah has been persona non grata at Buckingham Palace for many years but now. Now as mother of a royal bride (Eugenie is eighth in line to the throne), she’s back in the limelight which is sure to produce new headaches for the Queen and jittery royal handlers.
Sarah congratulated the couple with a series of gushing posts on social media which included photographs of the couple with captions where she described Brooksbank, as her “son, brother and best friend” and a “solid rock.” In a post which featured a photo of the couple on a boat she wrote, “They float with laughter and love … although a boat helps! #engagement #eugenieandjack” and tagged her ex-husband and daughter. The Twittersphere went into overdrive.
Hours later, a scheduled television interview with BBC where Fergie was set to talk about the engagement was suddenly cancelled, leaving Prince Andrew to field questions from reporters. The change of plans led to immediate speculation that the duchess may have been once again been sidelined due to her decidedly un-royal behavior. Here’s a look back at the 7 Craziest Un-Royal Things Sarah Ferguson Has Ever Done. And speaking of royal rules breakers, here are 10 Signs Harry and Meghan Will Break All the Royal Rules.
She mixes business with pleasure
While her husband was away serving in the royal navy, rumors of trouble in Sarah’s marriage to Prince Andrew surfaced and were impossible to deny when a tabloid published topless photos of her with her American financial adviser sucking on her toes. The Queen was not amused. When the photos hit the newsstands, Sarah was immediately summoned home to Buckingham Palace to face the music.
She’s fallen-out with some royal relatives
Sarah was, at one time, one of Princess Diana’s closest friends, but the two had a serious falling-out six months before the princess died in 1997. The duchess had been quoted as saying she got a plantar wart after wearing a pair of shoes she borrowed from Diana, who was infuriated by the remarks. Despite Fergie’s attempts at making amends, the two were not speaking at the time of Diana’s death.
She’s notoriously bad at managing her finances
After her divorce from Andrew, Sarah, who once said they were “the happiest divorced couple in the world,” continued to live with her ex-husband and her two daughters at the 30-room Royal Lodge in Windsor. Throughout that time, she went on television in America many times to decry her dire financial situation as a way to explain why she could not afford to live on her own. In 2015, Sarah finally announced she was going to live as an “independent unit” at a posh ski resort in the Swiss Alps. And for more royal facts, know that These British Royals Will Soon Have to Curtsy to Meghan Markle.
She used her image in an ad campaign
Cruelly dubbed, the “Duchess of Pork” when she gained weight after the birth of her two daughters, Sarah slimmed down and went on to become a Weight Watchers spokesperson. Her $3 million contract with the company expired in 2007. At time, according to the Times of London, she had to scale back a planned lavish 50th birthday party to a family meal because she couldn’t afford it.
She was caught on camera selling out her ex-husband
In 2010, Sarah was caught on tape allegedly selling access to Prince Andrew. She told an undercover journalist that for £500,000 “you open up all the channels, whatever you need, whatever you want … We can do so much. If you want to meet him in your business, look after me and he’ll look after you.”
In a video of the exchange, the duchess is seen carting away a black computer bag filled with the cash, which is described as a fee for “doing the big deal with Andrew.” The British tabloid News of the World printed a transcript of the exchange. The disgraced duchess went on Oprah Winfrey’s daytime talk show to give her version of events and explained she had been having tough times with the collapse of her “global lifestyle” company, Hartmoor. She ultimately apologized saying, “That is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment, and I am very sorry that this has happened. I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused.”
She starred in a so-so reality TV show
Sarah wound up starring in her own reality series produced by Oprah called Finding Sarah which chronicled her “emotional struggle to rebuild her life.” She also published a book of the same title which was roundly bashed in Britain.
She made William and Kate’s big day about herself
She was not invited to Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton but appeared on television ahead of the ceremony where she offered advice to the bride to be. “No matter what, stay with your man. Don’t let him be taken from you,” she counseled. She was so upset about not being invited, she told Oprah she fled to Thailand on the wedding day in 2011. “It was so difficult. Because I wanted to be there with my girls … and to be getting them dressed and to go as a family. And it was also hard because the last bride up that aisle was me.” Never one to leave well enough alone, she also said she didn’t really mind missing the big event because she wasn’t the only one who wasn’t there. “I really love the feeling that sort of Diana and I both weren’t there.” What the heck was she thinking? We’re thinking she shouldn’t expect an invite to Harry and Meghan’s wedding, either.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!