Prince Andrew‘s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson hasn’t spent Christmas with the royal family since she and the Duke of York separated three decades ago. Now in a move no one saw coming, King Charles III has reportedly decided to invite his former sister-in-law to Sandringham to spend the holiday with the rest of the royals.
Here’s why Charles is granting Fergie a seat at the family’s dinner table after a 30-year absence.
Why King Charles was feuding with Sarah
You’ve likely heard about the duchess’s feud with her late ex-father-in-law Prince Philip but following her embarrassing toe-sucking scandal, Sarah and Charles weren’t on good terms. In fact, it was Charles who snubbed her a few years ago when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married.
Fergie was invited to the couple’s nuptials at St. George’s Chapel but not the private reception that her ex-husband and daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, were because Charles did not want her there.
At the time a source told The Sun that Charles wasn’t a fan of Sarah and that goes back to her taking Princess Diana’s side years ago, explaining: “Charles is not OK with Fergie. He can’t stand her in reality. They don’t get on personally. There’s so much baggage because he feels she sided with Diana over Camilla.”
The reason the king invited the duchess to Christmas this year
So why now after all this time has King Charles invited the Duchess of York to Sandringham?
According to The Sun: “Andrew is banned from public life but you can’t ban him from family Christmas. Staff at Sandringham have been tasked with getting Wood Farm ready for the whole York family.”
Regarding Sarah, the source added: “When she split with Andrew, Sarah was never allowed at the family Christmas Eve and Christmas Day while Philip and the queen were alive. For 30 years she used to have Christmas dinner on her own. But things are being done differently now.”
Royal commentator Robert Jobson said: “By inviting her to spend the holiday in the royal fold, King Charles is showing us all what Christmas is all about — family and forgiveness.”
Royal expert Phil Dampier agreed and called the invitation an indication of Charles being “forgiving and kind.” He told the Daily Mail: “[Andrew] is still a member of the family and by inviting ex-wife Fergie it looks as though Charles is being forgiving and kind. Andy and Fergie’s daughters are grown up with kids of their own so it makes sense for them all to be invited, including the Duchess of York.”
An invite wouldn’t have been extended if Prince Philip were still alive
While King Charles is willing to move past his differences with Sarah, Dampier believes this invite “would never have happened while Prince Philip was alive.”
It’s no secret that the Duke of Edinburgh also feuded with the duchess. At some point, Queen Elizabeth forgave her former daughter-in-law but the Philip didn’t soften his stance much on how he felt about Sarah following her toe-sucking incident and inability to keep her name out of the headlines over the years.
Prince Philip died on April 9, 2021. Queen Elizabeth II died 17 months later on Sept. 8, 2022.