A Royal Expert Believes Sarah Ferguson Blamed Princess Diana for Toe-Sucking Scandal — Here’s Why

In Aug. 1992, scandalous photographs of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, emerged showing American financier, John Bryan, appearing to suck the royal’s toes — who later said he had been, in reality, kissing her toes — while sitting by the pool on vacation in Saint-Tropez, France, shortly following the royal’s separation from Prince Andrew, Duke of York. See the pictures here

The embarrassing incident became part of a series of events that led to Ferguson being ostracized by the royal family. According to a royal expert, the Duchess of York believed Princess Diana had been to blame for the scandal. Learn why ahead. 

Tina Brown: Ferguson blamed Princess Diana

In her 2007 book, The Diana Chronicles, royal author Tina Brown wrote Princess Diana had been there as a source of support for her friend and sister-in-law during the scandal. However, Brown claimed Ferguson thought Princess Diana had to do with the pictures, according to Express

Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson on May 17, 1987
Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson on May 17, 1987 | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

“I am told Fergie believes it was the Princess of Wales who leaked the Duchess of York’s whereabouts in France,” Brown wrote. Why? Very few people knew the details of Ferguson’s schedule. “Except for Fergie’s police protection officer, the only person who knew where she was going was Diana.”  

Princess Diana died at the age of 36 after sustaining fatal injuries from a car accident on Aug. 31, 1997, so we’ll never know whether or not she accidentally let slip the details of Ferguson’s vacation to the press or perhaps tipped off a photographer.

Duchess ‘made too many mistakes’ on vacation

A 1997 documentary, Fergie: Downfall of a Duchess, examined Ferguson’s time in the royal family — she and Prince Andrew officially divorced in 1996 — and among those interviewed for the program, one royal expert felt the toe-sucking incident had culminated in a series of mistakes made by Ferguson while on vacation in France. 

Royal biographer, Allan Starkie, explained why he thought the scandal had been a setup thanks to the events that led up to the shocking photographs. 

“When she stepped off the private plane, she was photographed walking down the steps of the airplane with a scarf and sunglasses on. That photograph appeared in the local newspaper the next morning,” Starkie said.

The same thing happened again. 

Sarah Ferguson on Sept. 18, 1992
Sarah Ferguson on Sept. 18, 1992 | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

“She was followed in the car by a motorcyclist all the way to the villa they rented and then there was a van parked in the side of the road with one-way mirrors, photographing her as she drove along. 

“Three tip-offs, how much more information did she need?” he added. According to Starkie, he told Ferguson about missteps she made at a later time. “I told her many many times, years [sic] afterward, at least in a subconscious level admit to me you both wanted to get caught, you made too many mistakes.”

This wasn’t the only time Ferguson found herself embroiled in scandal. Decades later in 2011, she came under fire again for accepting money for interview access to Prince Andrew, an incident Princess Beatrice once said made her “ashamed” of her mother.