She’s been known as “the disgraced royal” after high-profile scandals the likes of 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, it turns out the Duchess of York, 58, will indeed receive an invitation to the May wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Us Weekly reports.
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, The Sun reported.
Next: A financial reason behind the divorce
Her company collapsed in debt
- Reported debt after 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, Us Weekly reported. 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.
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