Sarah Ferguson Thought She Caused Her Parents to Breakup by ‘Disobeying’ Her Mother

Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson, Duchess of Sussex, believed as a child she caused the breakup of her parents Major Ronald Ferguson and Susan Barrantes (née Wright) because she didn’t listen to her mother (Ferguson once said her mother saw the “sign of the devil” in her). Continue reading to learn what Ferguson did because she felt guilty and read the letter she wrote to her mother years later. 

Before Ferguson became a member of the royal family when she married Prince Andrew, Duke of York in a fairytale royal wedding in 1986, she grew up on an 876-acre family farm in Hampshire, England, with her parents and older sister, Jane Ferguson. After retiring from the military, Ferguson’s father worked as a polo manager to Prince Charles, according to Good Housekeeping.

Sarah Ferguson’s mother left when the future duchess was 12 years old

But at the age of 12, Ferguson suddenly became without a mother when Barrantes left the family for Héctor Barrantes, an Argentinian polo player. 

Ferguson’s parents officially divorced in 1974 and the following year her mother and father both remarried. Her mother married the polo player and took his last name of Barrantes and funnily enough, her father married another woman with the first name of Susan. 

She thought her mom left because she got a haircut at the wrong place

Ferguson, now 59-years-old, discussed what she remembered about the day her mother left in a 2007 interview with Harper’s Bazaar

“Mum returned from a trip to South America, walked in the farmhouse, and said to my unsuspecting father: ‘I’m going.’ There were screams and shouts, and then she just left,” she recalled. 

Ferguson continued, saying she felt she caused her mother’s departure. 

“Her last words to me were ‘I don’t like your hair,’ because while she was away, instead of getting a haircut in London as she always insisted, I’d had it cut in the village shop,” Ferguson said. 

The Duchess of York further said she started eating to cover up her feelings of guilt. 

Sarah Ferguson Susan Barrantes
Sarah Ferguson and Susan Barrantes. | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

“Being a child, I believed that disobeying her caused their split—and started eating, compensating for my guilt,” she added. 

Ferguson battled with her weight for years and later became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. Today, she’s happy and healthy. 

Duchess of York forgave mother in emotional letter

Ferguson forgave her mother for deserting their family years later. In a heartfelt letter Ferguson wrote that was later published in author Lisa Erspamer’s book, A Letter to My Mom, she described what her mother taught her when she left, according to Hello! magazine

“I look back now and thank you, forgive you, and love you more. You gave me the strength to look at life differently. I am convinced I would never be the strong person I am inwardly had I not had to come to terms with the sense of abandonment,” Ferguson wrote to her mother in the letter. 

Sarah Ferguson
Sarah Ferguson. | John Rainford/GC Images

In another portion of the letter, Ferguson told her mother she thought about talking to her all the time and tell her about her life.

“It has been 17 years since you departed on your last drive from the farm in Argentina,” wrote Sarah. “There is not a day that doesn’t go by when I wish I could pick up the telephone and tell you what I have been doing.”

Ferguson’s mother died in a car accident in 1998 and her father died of a heart attack in 2003.