Why Sarah Ferguson Refused Generous Gift Queen Elizabeth II Gave Her Daughters

Having Queen Elizabeth II as a grandmother has its perks. The monarch has a net worth of around $500 million meaning she can afford to give her grandchildren some extravagant presents, like the country houses she gifted Prince William and Prince Harry when they married their wives. Several years back, the royal family matriarch also gave her granddaughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, a lavish present but their mother Sarah Ferguson refused to accept it for one reason. Read on to find out why.

Princess Eugenie, Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Beatrice standing together in the parade ring of Royal Ascot
Princess Eugenie, Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Beatrice standing together in the parade ring of Royal Ascot | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

What the queen gifted Beatrice and Eugenie

Back in 1997, the queen bought a beautiful property for Beatrice and Eugenie. The Mirror reported that it was Birch Hall, a Georgian mansion located in Surrey boasting a tennis court, swimming pool, and seven bedrooms as well as a separate two-bedroom house. Beatrice and Eugenie were just 7 and 9 years old at the time that the queen got it for them to enjoy it as their residence when they got older.

However, neither sister ever lived at the property because their mom refused it.

The reason Sarah Ferguson did not accept it

Princess Beatrice, Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Eugenie pose for a photo at an event in London
Princess Eugenie and Queen Elizabeth waking together at Royal Ascot | Karwai Tang/WireImage

Fergie told the queen “thank you, but no thank you” for the home. The reason is because the Duchess of York didn’t think she’d ever be able to afford the costs or the upkeep the house required. So in 1999, Birch Hall was sold for £1.5 million ($2 million USD). The money from the sale then reportedly went into a trust for the princesses.

In 2016, it sold for more than double that price at £4.2 million ($5.8 million). Speaking about the second sale, real estate agent Andrew Russell said: “It is probably one of the very best of north Surrey’s village houses, there’s not many that come on the market. The house itself is a very attractive and imposing-looking property. Some of the rooms are really quite dramatic, with high ceilings and full floor-to-ceiling sash windows. Every summer the owners have opened up the gardens for a charity event with picnics and a live band, so the house is quite prominent in the village.

He added: “The owners bought it from the trustees acting for the queen in 1999. The trustees bought it in 1997 for the princesses and I imagine it was chosen because it’s a pretty house in a popular village and the gardens are a real draw, it’s more like parkland.”

Princess Beatrice, Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Eugenie pose for a photo at an event in London
Princess Beatrice, Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Eugenie pose for a photo at an event in London | Dave Benett/Getty Images for The Ned London

Where the sisters did live for years

While the princesses never got to call Birch Hall home they did live together for several years at another one of the queen’s estates. The women resided at St. James’s Palace, which used to be the official royal residence prior to Buckingham Palace. 

Eugenie moved out after she married Jack Brooksbank in 2018. Beatrice still lives there today though with her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, who she wed in 2020.

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