In Depth

The rise and fall of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew

Duchess of York is ‘staggered’ that ex-husband’s Newsnight interview went ahead

Sarah Ferguson has privately accepted that her ex-husband Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview was a “car crash”, according to reports.

The Duchess of York publicly declared that she would stand by Andrew “every step of the way”, but The Telegraph says that behind closed doors she was “staggered” to discover the interview had gone ahead.

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 now the Duke of York is dogged by accusations of a lack of judgement over his links with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

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. On Friday, 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 did Fergie think of the interview?

A day after her Instagram post, the 50-minute Newsnight interview aired and was widely seen as disastrous.

Prince Andrew was grilled on his links to Epstein, who died in prison earlier this year, and allegations that Andrew had sex with a 17-year-old girl. He responded with a series of bizarre answers, claiming the alleged victim was wrong because he could not sweat owing to a medical condition and that he had been for an especially memorable excursion to Pizza Express in Woking.

His performance has led businesses and charities to withdraw their support for his projects, while a poll for Sky News found that just 6% of the public believed his explanations.

Friends of the Duchess told The Telegraph that she had nothing to do with the interview and suggested it was Andrew’s private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, who pushed for it. One source said Sarah accepted the interview was a “car crash”.

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.”

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