Sarah Ferguson and Princess Diana Once Pulled A Massive Prank On Buckingham Palace

Though their relationship was strained in the final year of Princess Diana’s life –the late princess and Sarah Ferguson were once thick as thieves. The women had been childhood friends who reconnected when Princess Diana married into the British Royal Family. In fact, it was the People’s Princess’ match-making skills that set the Duchess of York up with Prince Andrew.

Princess Diana and Fergie — as she’s still affectionally known, were wildly different women. While the princess felt caged in the royal family and was sensitive to criticisms from Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and the Queen Mother — Fergie was loved and embraced all around.

Still, as two young women in their 20s with rebellious streaks, the princess and the duchess found little ways to break out of the rigidity of royal customs and protocols. They once played a massive prank on Buckingham Palace.

Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) with Sarah Ferguson at the Guard's Polo Club, Windsor, June 1983. The Princess is wearing a jumper with a sheep motif from the London shop, Warm And Wonderfu
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 – 1997) with Sarah Ferguson at the Guard’s Polo Club, Windsor, June 1983. The Princess is wearing a jumper with a sheep motif from the London shop, Warm And Wonderful | Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

How Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson pranked Buckingham Palace

The Duchess of York was the first royal woman to have a bachelorette party. When she wed Prince Andrew in 1986– the duchess was just 27-years-old. Princess Diana already had Prince William and Prince Harry though she was just 25-years-old. In order to spice up on the “hen night,” the ladies decided to pull a massive prank.

In her 1996 autobiography, My Story: Sarah the Duchess of York — the duchess remembered she and the princess causing a major scene outside of Buckingham Palace by dressing as policewomen. They staged a mock-arrest and fooled palace guards. She reflected,

On July 15, a week before the wedding, Andrew had his stag do at Aubrey House with the likes of Elton John and Sir David Frost. I desperately wanted to gate-crash, but the fortress was impregnable: high wall, single entrance, guards with major biceps – no go. As a fallback, Diana and I staged a hen-night. With a few co-conspirators in tow, we donned grey wigs and dressed up in authentic policewomen’s outfits, down to our regulation dark stockings and lace-up shoes. After assembling just outside the Palace, we pretended to arrest one of our friends (chosen for her fabulous legs), who was playing the promiscuous lady. The duty police at the gates thought this very strange. They called out the parks police, who proceeded to arrest the lot of us – even our protection officer, who played along – for causing a scene outside Buckingham Palace. They ushered us into their police van, [and] Diana and I had no intention of resisting. We thought it hysterically funny.

Princess Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah Ferguson (Fergie, Duchess of York) at the Royal Ascot races in Ascot, England in 199
Princess Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah Ferguson (Fergie, Duchess of York) at the Royal Ascot races in Ascot, England in 1991 | Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson used one trick for their disguise

Since they were two of the most well-known women in Britain it seems implausible that the police didn’t know who the duchess or princess was. However, Fergie revealed that one little detail helped them stay incognito. She explained,

We’d turned our engagement rings wrong side around, and it had worked, they hadn’t recognized us. By the time we reached the end of the Mall, our cover must’ve worn thin – we heard one of the policemen say, ‘Oh my heavens, it’s the Princess of Wales in drag!’

England's Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, & Princess Diana at Epsom Derby
England’s Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, & Princess Diana at Epsom Derby | Ken Goff/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

This is why Princess Diana wasn’t speaking to Sarah Ferguson when she died

In November 1996, the duchess published My Story: Sarah the Duchess of York. In the book, Fergie wrote, some pretty rude things about the late princess. She wrote that Princess Diana had generously given her several pairs of shoes, “and less happily her plantar warts.”

Princess Diana was not amused and she never spoke to Ferge after the book was published. The Duchess of York told Harper’s Bazaar, “Because we were like siblings… we rowed. And the saddest thing, at the end, we hadn’t spoken for a year.”