How Did Sarah Ferguson and Princess Diana Become Friends?

Princess Diana and Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson, Duchess of York, had a history long before they both married into the British royal family and became sisters-in-law. Learn how they became friends ahead. 

Sarah Ferguson and Princess Diana were related not just by marriage

Princess Diana and Ferguson knew each other as children. In fact, they were fourth cousins, according to Town & Country.

Both descended from William Cavendish, Fourth Duke of Devonshire. Their connection didn’t stop there. Ferguson and Princess Diana’s mothers went to school together and had known each other since they were kids.

Growing up they weren’t very close, they only became friends in 1980 when Princess Diana was 19 years old and Ferguson, 21 years old. 

Princess Diana Sarah Ferguson 1991
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and Diana, Princess of Wales. | Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

They lunched together every week

As young adults, the Duchess of York or “red” as Princess Diana called her, and the future wife of Prince Charles ran in the same social circles.

They both liked a good laugh — something that would get them into trouble when they became part of the royal family — and soon, began having weekly lunches together. 

Although they were close, their friendship had some rough patches. For instance, when Princess Diana and Prince Charles married in 1981, they invited Ferguson to the ceremony but not the reception, which upset her. 

Ferguson tried to ‘support and protect’ Princess Diana 

Even though Ferguson became a member of the royal family five years after Princess Diana — she married Prince Andrew in 1986 — the Duchess of York acted as a mentor to Princess Diana who was two years her junior. 

In her 1996 biography, My Story, following her divorce from Prince Andrew, Ferguson wrote: “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.”

Princess Diana facilitated romance between Prince Andrew and Ferguson

In 1985, Princess Diana recommended Queen Elizabeth II invite Ferguson to an event during Ascot week. At dinner, the future Duchess of York sat next to Prince Andrew, whom she had met before but this occasion marked their shift from friends to something more. 

As the Duke and Duchess of York’s relationship grew, Princess Diana continued to play matchmaker by inviting the couple to spend time with her and Prince Charles at Highgrove. 

Once the couple became official and Ferguson joined the royal family, the women were spotted together often. 

They went on a couples ski trip. 

Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew
Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson, and Prince Andrew. | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

They attended polo matches together. 

Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson
Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson. | Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

And they held on to their hats in the wind. 

Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson
Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson. | Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

Princess Diana died not having talked to Ferguson for a year

Like we said earlier, Princess Diana and Ferguson’s friendship wasn’t perfect. They argued. Ferguson’s autobiography bothered Princess Diana for a number of reasons.

First, there was a comment Ferguson made in the book about her sister-in-law giving her plantar warts. Second, Princess Diana was reportedly unhappy Ferguson didn’t sign the confidentiality agreement in her divorce from Prince Andrew as she did as part of her divorce settlement with Prince Charles

For a year the two didn’t speak and sadly, the day before her tragic death on Aug. 31, 1997, Ferguson said Princess Diana had reached out to a mutual friend and inquired about her sister-in-law and said she’d like to give her a call.