Sarah Ferguson may have left royal duties behind officially in 1996, when she divorced Prince Andrew, but she has continued to lead a colourful life. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is celebrating her 64th birthday today (October 15), with Express.co.uk taking the opportunity to look back at the defining moments of her life in pictures.
Despite her marriage to Prince Andrew only lasting for the best part of a decade, the union produced two daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and the ex-spouses remain good friends to this day. Sarah Ferguson was born on October 15 1959, the second child of Major Ronald Ferguson and Susan Barrantes, and she has an older sister named Jane.
Sadly family life was not always easy for the Duchess, affectionately known as ‘Fergie’, as her parents divorced when she was a teenager and her mother left for Argentina to start a new life with her new husband. Although both her parents remarried, she said her mother’s decision left her feeling “abandoned” as contact between the two was rare, however she has since noted that this tough relationship helped to make her a good mother to her own daughters.
Following the completion of her studies at Hurst Lodge School, Sarah worked odd jobs, including as a chalet girl, cleaner and waitress, she attended Queen’s Secretarial College and later got a job in an art gallery. She became a well-known face after her engagement to Prince Andrew was made public on March 19 1986 – although they had moved in similar circles they became reacquainted at Ascot in 1985, with Princess Diana reportedly claiming they would be a good match.
Sarah and Andrew married at Westminster Abbey on July 23 1986 and they became the Duke and Duchess of York, with Andrew choosing a ruby engagement ring for his bride to complement her famous red locks. The pair immediately undertook royal duties as a couple, with Sarah giving birth to their two daughters in quick succession, with Princess Beatrice being born on August 8 1988 and Princess Eugenie arriving on March 23 1990.
The Duke’s career in the Royal Navy sadly kept them apart and eventually took its toll on their marriage. Sarah’s friendship with Texan multimillionaire Steve Wyatt made headlines, but it was the pictures published of financial manager John Bryan sucking on Fergie’s toes, shortly after the couple had announced their separation in 1992, that led her to be banished from the Royal Family.
The Yorks officially divorced in 1996, although Fergie still keeps a room at Royal Lodge, his residence in Windsor. She retains her title as Duchess and has gradually made her way back into royal circles after her exclusion, attending the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018 and the King’s Coronation Concert earlier this year. Her friendship with Andrew remains strong, with her stating he will always be her “handsome prince”, in 2013.