Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson Were Both ‘Damaged’ Long Before They Joined the Royal Family Claims ‘Royal Wives at War’

Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson were making royal headlines decades before Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The British tabloids were obsessed with the supposed fairytale lives of Princess of Wales and the Duchess of York after their weddings to Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, respectively. However, according to a new documentary, both women were “damaged” long before they married into the royal family.

Princess Diana Sarah Ferguson
Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson had a complex relationship

During their time in the spotlight, Diana and Sarah had a complex relationship that saw them as both friends and rivals. According to Town & Country, Diana and Sarah were actually fourth cousins and their mothers went to school together. They met during childhood but didn’t become close until 1980 when Diana was 19 and Sarah was 21.

That was the year that Diana started dating Prince Charles, and Sarah scored an invitation to Charles and Diana’s wedding. The close friends had lunch together every week, and Sarah became Diana’s confidante.

While Diana struggled in her new role as the Princess of Wales, Sarah would visit her at Buckingham Palace to cheer her up.

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“She was two years younger than I, and I strove to support and protect her as I would a younger sister—as I still do today, as a best friend,” the Duchess of York wrote in her 1996 autobiography.

Diana was a big help for Sarah when her relationship with Andrew became serious and she started to make public appearances with the family. Sarah recalls being nervous about the photographers at an event and Diana telling her, “just keep smiling.”

The British tabloids created a rivalry between the royal sisters-in-law

Diana and Sarah were very close. But as they do with Kate and Megan, the British tabloids created a rivalry between them. Diana did admit the rivalry wasn’t just headline fodder. Both were young and insecure in their royal positions, and Diana noticed when Sarah bested her.

Diana revealed to her biographer Andrew Morton, that Sarah “wooed everybody in this family and did it so well. She left me looking like dirt.” She added that Prince Charles told her “I wish you would be like Fergie — all jolly.”

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When they both started becoming unhappy in their marriages, they leaned on each other. When they both split from their husband in 1992, they became closer than ever. After their divorces became final in 1996, they vacationed together in the South of France with their children.

Sadly, they had a falling out after Sarah published her autobiography. When Diana died in 1997, they had not yet reconciled. Sarah said that she attended Diana’s funeral anyway “because we were like siblings…we rowed. And the saddest thing, at the end, we hadn’t spoken for a year.”

Both Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson were ‘damaged’ before they joined the royal family

In the new documentary Fergie vs Diana: Royal Wives at War, royal expert Jennie Bond claims that both Diana and Sarah were “damaged” before they joined the royal family. According to Express, both Diana and Sarah’s mothers abandoned them as children. This common experience reportedly cemented their friendship.

“I think a lasting bond was the fact that they were damaged by the break-up of their parents’ marriages,” Bond said. “Unusually for both women they were abandoned by their mothers. Both Fergie and Diana’s mothers left their families to be with new partners when the girls were still young.”

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Royal expert Richard Kay notes that Diana was “famously distraught” by her parents’ divorce. After a bitter custody battle, Diana and her siblings lived with their father. Sarah’s father raised her, too.

Since Diana’s death, Sarah Ferguson hasn’t remained close with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry. William didn’t invite his aunt to his wedding in 2011 with Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. However, she did score an invite to Prince Harry’s wedding in 2018 with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.