Inside Sarah Ferguson's Scandalous Past Ahead of Princess Eugenie's Royal Wedding
By Desiree Murphy
Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
Sarah Ferguson, known by her nickname Fergie, is bracing herself for the second royal wedding of the year.
On Friday, Oct. 12, the Duchess of York will watch her youngest child, daughter Princess Eugenie, say "I do" to Jack Brooksbank at St. George's Chapel in Windsor, England. And although it's Eugenie's special day, eyes will surely be on the controversial duchess to see how she interacts with the rest of the royal family.
Fergie is the former wife of Prince Andrew, who is the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. In addition to 28-year-old Eugenie, Fergie and Andrew also share another daughter, 30-year-old Princess Beatrice. Though Fergie and Andrew appear to be amicable these days, other members of the royal family seemingly still hold a grudge against the red-headed duchess for all her shocking antics.
Ahead of Eugenie's big day, ET breaks down Fergie's rocky relationship with the royals.
Fergie and Andrew's love story actually began at an early age. The two had known each other since childhood, and would frequently run into each other at polo matches.
After reacquainting with each other at the Royal Ascot in 1985, the two fell in love and announced their engagement one year later on March 19. Andrew reportedly proposed to Fergie with a ruby engagement ring surrounded by diamonds that he designed himself to complement her red hair.
"We were made to sit next to each other," Andrew said in their joint engagement interview. "It was at Ascot, as it were, that the whole thing took off. But it wasn't Ascot, as such, when we realized that there was anything in it. It was later on."
The Royal Wedding
Andrew and Fergie eventually tied the knot at Westminister Abbey on July 23, 1986, where Queen Elizabeth II gave them the titles of Duke and Duchess of York. Nearly 2,000 guests were invited, including Elton John, Nancy Reagan and Estee Lauder.
The Washington Post reported at the time that Fergie had "emerged as friendly, self-assured, bright and engagingly human," and although another royal in the family, Princess Diana, took "a better picture," Fergie was "more fun."
While attending a fundraising event in New York City in January 1988 as part of her royal duties, a young man rushed at Fergie near the entrance of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where she was staying at the time. According to the Associated Press, the suspect was screaming "Murderers, murderers 3/8" and wielding an Irish Republican Army flag on a pole. Fergie was unharmed, but the incident made national news.
Cheating Rumors / Separation
Following the births of their two daughters, things seemingly went downhill for Andrew and Fergie, and they eventually separated in March 1992.
Queen Elizabeth broke royal protocol by releasing a statement expressing her personal unhappiness over the matter shortly before their separation was announced. "In view of the media speculation which the Queen finds especially undesirable during the general election campaign, Her Majesty is issuing the following statement: Last week, lawyers acting for the Duchess of York initiated discussions about a formal separation for the Duke and Duchess. These discussions are not yet completed and nothing will be said until they are," the statement read. "The Queen hopes that the media will spare the Duke and Duchess of York and their children any intrusion."
The Toe-Sucking Scandal
While she was still legally married to Andrew, Fergie shocked the world when she was photographed getting flirty with financial adviser John Bryan during a St. Tropez getaway in August 1992. Intrusive pictures of John kissing her toes were published on the front page of The Daily Mirror.
"I remember seeing it and just going, 'Oh no, Sarah,'" Fergie recalled in an interview with Piers Morgan years later. "And that's when Caroline, my best friend in the world, she said to me, 'Now you need help, Sarah. This is crazy. What is happening here?'"
"I went through that, and I think it's an extraordinary tale," she continued. "And it's one which is, every day I work at. And every day I try and see how and why I did those things."
Fergie and Andrew Officially Divorce
After four years of separation, the two announced their mutual decision to divorce in May 1996. Fergie has retained her title of Duchess of York, but will lose it if she ever decides to remarry.
Working With Weight Watchers
In 1997, as a way to make money following her divorce from Andrew and for being scrutinized for her weight, Fergie became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. She remained the face of the program for 11 years. "I'd just been divorced and I needed to earn a living," she told USA Today at the time. "I still do."
While the deal was seemingly less embarrassing for Fergie than bankruptcy, it was perceived as yet another shocking move for the duchess, as other royals don't typically endorse programs promoting weight loss.
The Bribery Scandal
Fergie caught herself in more hot water in May 2010, when the Duchess of York was caught on tape accepting a bribe from an undercover reporter posing as a businessman who said he could help her get out of serious financial debt. In the incriminating video, released by British tabloid News of the World, Fergie offered access to Andrew in exchange for cash.
"I'm now aware of my feelings, and when you're actually in the middle of it, you keep looking back and realizing what on earth you did," Fergie later explained in a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey. "And the person you look back and see is sort of almost unrecognizable."
"There aren't really very many words to describe an act of such gross stupidity," she added. "I will embrace it because I have to. I will beg for forgiveness. All I can know is that it happened and now I have got to go forward."
Fergie Snubbed From Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding Reception
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex tied the knot on May 19, Fergie -- who was not invited to Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding in 2011 -- was there to witness the nuptials. However, she did not get an invite to Prince Charles' private evening reception for the newlyweds.
"Numbers are limited to the evening party, she is not a member of the Royal Family any more and Prince Charles simply doesn't have time for her," a source told The Daily Mail. "He just can't see why she is still such a big part of his brother [Andrew]'s life."
"He has held a grudge against her for a long, long time," another source added, "and normally refuses to even be in the same room as her."
Could Fergie and Andrew Ever Remarry?
That's what some fans are hoping! Back in May, Fergie took to Instagram to gush over Andrew, congratulating him on being made an Honorary Fellow at a Cambridge College. He makes frequent appearances on her social media accounts, and Andrew has even taken Fergie as his guest to royal events over the past few years.
The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 states that the first six individuals in the line of succession to the British throne cannot marry without the king or queen's consent. But Andrew has since bumped down from sixth to seventh in the line of succession following the recent birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton's third child, Prince Louis. That being said, Andrew could now remarry Fergie if he wanted to, without permission from Queen Elizabeth.
For more on Princess Eugenie's upcoming nuptials, check out ET's guide to royal wedding No. 2 here, and watch the video below for the latest on the royal family.