What Queen Elizabeth II ‘Dislikes’ Most Became a Problem at Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew’s Wedding

The royal wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson, Duke and Duchess of York, in 1986, brought out something Queen Elizabeth II “dislikes” more than anything else. Continue reading to learn exactly how it caused a “heated altercation” ahead of the royal wedding. 

Royal weddings are like movie productions, they take months of planning and no matter how much time is spent preparing for every possible thing that could go wrong, inevitably some unforeseen circumstance comes along and causes a problem.

That’s what happened ahead of Prince Andrew and Ferguson’s nuptials at Westminster Abbey. The unforeseen circumstance happened to be then-First Lady Nancy Reagan … and her supposed 12 person security team. 

What Queen Elizabeth II ‘dislikes’ most

In her 1991 book, Sarah: HRH The Duchess of York, author Ingrid Seward explained what happened when the First Lady accepted an invitation to a huge party hosted by the bride’s father, Major Ronald Ferguson, ahead of the royal wedding, according to Express

“The Americans asked that Nancy Reagan be accompanied by twelve security men,” Seward wrote. 

The father of the bride knew this would cause trouble because as Seward put it, “There is nothing the Queen dislikes more than the presence of too many obvious security men.”

Sarah Ferguson Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. | © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II’s security detail was much lighter in comparison. She was expected to arrive at the party with one member of her security team riding on a motorcycle beside her car. She reportedly didn’t — and perhaps still doesn’t — care for elaborate security detail. 

“There is nothing the Queen dislikes more than the presence of too many obvious security men and, knowing this, Ronald Ferguson was determined not to accede to the American request,” Seward continued. 

One look at how the British royal family gets around London nearly undetected explains why Queen Elizabeth II may be more inclined to have a less is more attitude when it comes to security.

According to a former member of the royal family’s security team, they use a model called “discrete and unobtrusive” and let’s face it, they can’t be either with a dozen members trailing a small number of royals. 

A ‘heated altercation’ ensued about security

The father of the bride then told the First Lady’s security team they’d have to scale back for the party. Reportedly, this caused an argument between the father of the bride and the First Lady’s head of security. 

Here’s how Seward described the argument in her book: 

“In a heated altercation, he informed the head security men: ‘This is a private party and a personal invitation from His Royal Highness the Prince Andrew. It is not extended to 12 bodyguards,’” Ferguson said according to Seward. 

The head of Reagan’s security wasn’t having it. “The Secret Service man protested. ‘In that case, Nancy Reagan would not be able to come,’” he responded.

Ferguson then demonstrated just how serious he was about the level of security at the party. 

Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan. | Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

“‘In that case,’ the Major replied in a voice that was used to giving orders, ‘she needn’t.’”

Both men who seemed unwilling to compromise on security eventually did just that. 

“They finally settled on two. One at the door, and one inside,” Ferguson recalled to Seward. 

As they say, the show — or in this case the party — must go on. And indeed it did. The party and wedding happened without any major incidents except the bride and groom kissing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace when they were expressly told not to before the ceremony.