She’s been known as “the disgraced royal” after high-profile scandals that include toe-sucking and bribe-taking. So, whether Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson would be included in one of the biggest weddings of 2018 was seriously in question. However, Us Weekly reports that the Duchess of York, 58, will receive an invitation to the May wedding of her nephew Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after all.
Here we’ll look at the rocky history of Ferguson’s relationship with the royal family, how it often involved dollar signs, and why Prince Harry wanted her at his wedding all along.
Ferguson and Prince Andrew divorced in 1996
- Reported divorce settlement: $4.2 million
The couple married in 1986 and had two daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie. They divorced in 1996. Ferguson, who holds the title Duchess of York, told Harper’s BAZAAR it was “the most painful time of my life.” The split was triggered by his demanding naval career, which only allowed for the two to see each other 40 days a year. There were also rumors of the duchess’ infidelity.
Ferguson and her daughters received £3 million (or $4,221,180) as part of her divorce settlement, The Telegraph reported. Despite the fact they are divorced, the duchess said in 2016 she and Prince Andrew are “still together.” The two still share houses in Windsor and Switzerland.
Next: A financial reason behind the divorce
Her company collapsed in debt
- Reported debt after the collapse of her company: $889,000
Another reason behind the divorce was Ferguson’s desire to work. “I wanted to work; it’s not right for a princess of the royal house to be commercial, so Andrew and I decided to make the divorce official so I could go off and get a job,” she told Harper’s BAZAAR.
She formed the company Hartmoor in 2006 to promote her publishing and public speaking in the U.S. Its headquarters was in an upscale Madison Avenue building in New York City. However, the company became saddled with debt and collapsed in 2009. Soon later, Ferguson admitted to being around $889,000 in debt.
Next: Was desperation behind her darkest moment?
She was caught accepting a bribe
- Amount of the bribe: $717,649
In 2010, a scandal erupted when Ferguson was filmed by tabloid publication News of the World offering access to Prince Andrew for 500,000 pounds (or $717,649, at the time). A reporter posed undercover as an Indian businessman offering her money. She can be heard saying, “£500,000 when you can, to me, open doors.” She is seen taking away a briefcase containing $400,000 in U.S. cash.
Ferguson confirmed the video’s authenticity and released a statement to express her regret. “I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused,” she said. “It is true that my financial situation is under stress. However, that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment and I am very sorry that this has happened.”
Next: Just how much debt was she in?
Duchess of Debt
- Reported debt in the mid-1990s: $5.9 million
In 2010, for the second time in her life, Ferguson was saddled with big debts. The Telegraph reported that she was in the red $1.4 million. The website pointed out that a decade earlier, she was in debt to the tune of $5.8 million.
Back then, she headed to America to repay her debt by earning money through Hartmoor. Ferguson’s money problems led some in the British press to dub her the “Duchess of Debt.”
Next: She capitalized on her weight loss.
Weight Watchers spokeswoman
- Reported pay: $1.7 million
Another nickname the tabloids gave Fergie was the “Duchess of Pork,” when she gained weight after her two pregnancies. She was able to capitalize on this, however, and pay off some debt when she became Weight Watchers spokesperson in 1997. She remained on the job for 11 years. The company reportedly paid her $1.7 million for this role.
Next: She was snubbed at another royal wedding
Fergie wasn’t invited to William and Kate’s wedding
“For every royal wedding that’s planned there’s a snubbed relative,” longtime royal watcher Mark Saunders pointed out. Of course, he was referring to Ferguson’s not being invited to the biggest wedding of 2011, that of Prince William to Kate Middleton.
Why the snub? Speculation pointed to the infamous $700,000 bribe. The duchess later told Oprah Prince William’s wedding was “so difficult because I wanted to be there with my girls … to be getting them dressed and to go as a family.”
Next: A wedding she’ll be included in
She’ll score an invite to Harry’s wedding
Things will go quite differently for Ferguson when it comes to Prince Harry’s wedding, however. She’ll score an invite after all. In fact, a source was quoted saying Harry has always intended to invite his aunt, the duchess.
“He is very close to Eugenie and Beatrice and their mother is just as much family as the father,” the source said. “Harry and Meghan have total control over who goes to the wedding and there was never an issue at the Palace about Sarah being invited. No pushback from anyone.”
Next: How Fergie feels about her own daughter’s wedding
Fergie can’t wait for her own daughter’s wedding
One upcoming wedding the duchess is certainly over the moon about is that of her daughter Princess Eugenie to longtime boyfriend Jack Brooksbank. When the couple announced their engagement, Ferguson took to Twitter to say she was “so excited” and referred to Brooksbank as a “son, a brother and best friend.”
The wedding is set for the fall of 2018. “I think autumn sometime will be the sort of time that everybody’s looking at,” Prince Andrew said. “But we can’t fix a date yet — we’ve got to look at everybody’s diaries. It’s a bit more complicated than that,” he said with a laugh.
Next: How will these two highly-anticipated royal weddings compare?
The engagement dresses
- Princess Eugenie’s Erdem dress price: $5,175
- Meghan Markle’s Parosh dress price: $531
The Royal Family released Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s engagement portraits on Jan. 22, 2018. The happy couple stands in a well-decorated room in Buckingham Palace featuring a red wall and gold-framed paintings in the background.
For her engagement portrait, Princess Eugenie wore an eye-catching floral Erdem dress that cost $5,175. On the other hand, for Meghan Markle’s engagement portrait in December 2017, Markle opted for an elegant, dark green Parosh dress that cost $531.50. While Eugenie’s dress cost quite a bit more than Markle’s, her choice of the bright, floral pattern set her engagement dress apart from the dark-colored choices of both Markle and Kate Middleton.
Next: The engagement rings
The engagement rings
- Price of Princess Eugenie’s ring: $140,000
- Price of Meghan Markle’s ring: $70,000
In her engagement portraits, Princess Eugenie proudly shows her engagement ring – a padparadscha sapphire surrounded by diamonds. This type of sapphire is a rare, pink-orange jewel that usually comes from Sri Lanka. Her ring’s main stone is oval-shaped, and the jewels are set in a gold band. Eugenie’s ring resembles that of her mother, Sarah Ferguson, whose ring featured a red ruby as the central stone.
Markle’s engagement ring was designed by Prince Harry. It’s custom made with the main diamond sourced from Botswana and two smaller stones from Princess Diana’s collection. During the couple’s interview with the BBC, Prince Harry said that the ring is yellow gold because that’s Markle’s favorite.
One report estimated Eugenie’s ring to be valued at $140,000 – double the estimated value of Markle’s. However, Markle’s ring is surely thought of as priceless with its connection to Prince Harry’s beloved late mother.
Next: The chapel
The wedding ceremonies
- Both ceremonies will take place at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank will be married at St. George’s Chapel inside Windsor Castle in 2018. The chapel has hosted royal weddings for centuries. Prince Harry and Princess Eugenie were both baptized in the chapel, Harry in 1984 and Eugenie in 1990. Another couple who tied the knot at St. George’s was Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005. (Prince William and Kate Middleton were married at Westminster Abbey.)
Next: The wedding dates
The wedding dates
- Both weddings will take place in 2018, one in spring the other in fall.
While Princess Eugenie’s engagement announcement did not list an exact date, it did say the nuptials will take place in autumn of 2018. Kensington Palace announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding will take place on Saturday, May 19, 2018.
While you might assume Eugenie and her fiancé will also opt for a Saturday wedding, it’s interesting to note that a number of other prominent royal weddings took place during the week. Prince William and Kate Middleton wed on a Friday in 2011, while Prince Charles and Lady Diana wed on a Wednesday in 1981. When Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip married back in 1947, they opted for a Thursday wedding.
Next: Will the events be bank holidays?
- Neither wedding will likely give the British public a day off work.
Although an official date has not yet been announced, Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Brooksbank will not likely be a bank holiday. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s May 19 wedding falls on a Saturday and officially will not be a bank holiday. In contrast, the U.K. celebrated a bank holiday in 2011 for the wedding of Harry’s older brother William to Kate Middleton. The day saw big celebrations and throngs of people lining the streets to witness the couple making their way to Westminster Abbey. The government also declared a bank holiday for the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. If either couple’s wedding day is declared a bank holiday, the estimated cost to the British economy would have been $3 billion in lost productivity.
Next: Will anyone get a new royal title?
- Brooksbank and Markle won’t officially become a prince and princess.
Princess Eugenie will keep her royal title of Princess of York when she gets married. She will have the option to take her fiancé’s surname and become “Her Royal Highness The Princess Eugenie, Mrs. Jack Brooksbank.” She could choose to relinquish her royal title on marriage, but this is unlikely. As for Brooksbank, while he won’t become a prince, he could be offered a title from Queen Elizabeth – but it’s uncertain whether this will happen.
As for Meghan Markle, according to a royal expert, she wouldn’t become a princess upon marrying Prince Harry, much the same way Kate Middleton isn’t referred to as “Princess Kate.” This is because a commoner can’t become royal through marriage. However, it is speculated Prince Harry would receive the title “Duke of Sussex” – in which case Markle could become Duchess of Sussex.
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