One of Americans’ favorite guilty pleasures is gossip about the British royal family. From the scandal of Prince Charles and Camilla’s affair to Kate Middleton’s style, we can’t get enough juicy details about the royals. And if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that Sarah Ferguson doesn’t seem to be the most popular person in the family.
The Duchess of York
Known as “Fergie” by the media, Sarah Ferguson is the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s sons. Americans know her for her partnership with Weight Watchers in the ’90s and her charity work over the past several decades. But to the British royals, she’s a lot more.
Next: Topless photo troubles
Tabloids and topless photos
While initially popular with the royal family, Ferguson soon became a thorn in their side. In March 1992, she and Prince Andrew announced their separation. Later that year, she was photographed sunbathing topless with John Bryan, an American financial manager who was kissing her feet. British tabloid Daily Mirror published the photos. The queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, wrote Ferguson a letter, telling her, “You have done more to bring shame on the family than could ever have been imagined,” according to The Guardian.
Next: The drama continues.
More money, more problems
Ferguson has long been plagued by money troubles, mainly due to poor choices and big spending. In the years after her divorce, the duchess claimed she had received only 15,000 pounds sterling a year as a divorce settlement, but it was later revealed that she had received a lump sum settlement of 3 million pounds, according to The Telegraph. In the mid-’90s, she allegedly had a 4.2 million pound deficit in her bank account, which she paid off by going on “a four-year earning spree” in the U.S.
But while she’d (mostly) managed to stay out of trouble despite her debts, a 2010 incident changed everything, including her family’s opinion of her.
Next: The royal scandal
Cash for access
In 2010, the duchess was caught on film accepting money in exchange for offering access to Prince Andrew, according to People. The person posing as a businessman willing to pay for the access was an undercover reporter. Ferguson was busted, and her family was furious. Fortunately, Prince Andrew forgave her, and they resumed the friendship they had built after their divorce. The rest of the family, however, wasn’t so quick to forgive.
Next: The criminal charges
Criminal charges filed
Ferguson narrowly avoided filing for bankruptcy, and she avoided jail time by an even narrower margin. In 2012, Turkey issued an international arrest warrant for the duchess after it was revealed that she lied about her motives for visiting the country in 2008, The Telegraph reported. She had covertly filmed a Turkish state orphanage, and Turkey accused her of distorting information about the orphanage and smearing the nation. The duchess avoided extradition, but the incident didn’t help her strained relationship with the royal family.
Next: Reconciliation rumors?
Prince Andrew remarriage rumors
Not all members of the royal family dislike the duchess. For several years, rumors have circulated that Prince Andrew and Ferguson might remarry. Since their divorce, the couple has vacationed together many times with their two daughters, and as recently as 2015, they were living together. Ferguson had a rather cryptic response when asked about their status, claiming that they “never really left each other.”
Next: No forgiveness from this prince
Prince Philip can’t forgive and forget
In 2015, Prince Andrew helped Ferguson reconcile with the royal family when she attended the Royal Ascot. While most family members were courteous, Prince Philip reportedly threw Fergie some major shade and apparently looked furious at her presence.
Next: No royal wedding invites for Fergie?
The upcoming royal weddings will reveal all
Ferguson was noticeably absent from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding, likely because she’s still seen as an embarrassment (and because of her alleged falling-out with Princess Diana six months before Diana died). Fergie and Prince Andrew’s daughter Eugenie just announced her engagement, and rumors are already swirling that no one in the family wants Ferguson to attend. One can’t help but wonder about the plans for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, as well.
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