How Sarah Ferguson Reacted to Her Leaked Photo Scandal

Over the past two decades, Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson, Duchess of York has worked tirelessly to repair her image with the British Royal Family and the public. Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie’s mother first entered the public eye when she wed Prince Andrew in 1986. A bold redhead who had no issue speaking her mind, the duchess was beloved by Princess Diana, Prince Philip, and Queen Elizabeth II. Unfortunately, a tumultuous marriage and a series of money woes along with some scandalous leaked photos altered her life and her stance in the royal family forever.

In 1992, in the midst of her troubled marriage with Prince Andrew, the duchess was photographed twice in compromising positions. The first was with American playboy Steve Wyatt on holiday in Morocco. The second time was with American businessman John Bryan in the South of France. Almost immediately after the photos hit the press, the royal family practically banished the duchess– and she and Prince Andrew separated. The pair officially divorced in 1996, but have remained very close. We all know how Prince Philip and the queen reacted to the photos but how did Fergie react?

Sarah Ferguson and John Bryan
Sarah Ferguson and John Bryan | YouTube

Why were the photos so scandalous?

Even by today’s standards, the leaked photos of Fergie that went public in ’92 were pretty scandalous. The still-married royal was photographed first with Steve Wyatt. The pictures showed the pair by the pool with the duchess’ arm around Wyatt. Those photos obviously caused alarm.

However, it was her photos with oil tycoon, John Bryan that sealed her fate. The pictures showed a topless Fergie as she lounged on a beach chair while Bryan was sucking her toes. Though there were rumors of Prince Andrew’s infidelity also– the duchess’ indiscretions were caught on camera.  To make matters worse, the royals found out about the scandals along with everyone else.

The Bryan photos came to light when the newspapers were delivered to the breakfast table while the royals were all on holiday together. The Duchess of York was sent swiftly back to London, and she and Prince Andrew separated soon after that.

Sarah Ferguson glam shot
Sarah Ferguson glam shot | Instagram via royallyfergie

How did the Duchess of York react to the photo scandal?

The Wyatt photos hit the news when Fergie was returning to England from Miami with her father, and they left her in quite a state.In her 2007 book The Diana Chronicles, Tina Brown wrote, “The poor girl was so distraught that she had a meltdown coming home. On the plane from Miami, journalists watched her “knocking back champagne, throwing wet towels, peanuts and tissues around, and placing a sick bag over her head into which she reportedly made strange “telephone noises.” By the time the toe-sucking photos dropped later that year, the duchess was determined to fade away in the background quietly, focusing on her daughters and her work.

In her 1996 autobiography, My Story: Sarah, Duchess of York, Fergie explained that she thought “the pictures were a plant to discredit her.”

Luckily, the duchess didn’t let her past define who she is today.