Breaking News

Princess Eugenie’s wedding has scandal-plagued Fergie back in the royal spotlight

For excitable royal watchers, the most interesting thing about the Friday wedding of Britain’s Princess Eugenie and her fiancé Jack Brooksbank won’t be the eye-popping hats or the couple’s carriage ride through the streets of Windsor.

It’s the anticipation of the moment cantankerous Prince Philip must acknowledge the mother-of-the-bride, Sarah Ferguson, former brand ambassador for Weight Watchers, at the ceremony inside St George’s Chapel.

There’s even a chance the 97-year-old consort to Queen Elizabeth II might stay away from the nuptials altogether, so contemptuous is he of his one-time daughter-in-law.

The UK’s Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday that he will decide on the morning itself whether he will attend, though Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, told The Post his pride wouldn’t allow him to miss the occasion because of Fergie.

“It would be very small-minded of him to let her get it in the way,” she said. “He is very close to Eugenie and, even given his age, wouldn’t miss her big day.”

Royal author Duncan Larcombe agreed, adding that there will likely be an awkward moment when he sets eyes on Fergie.

“Don’t expect pistols at dawn, but there’s no love lost between them,” he said. “If there’s one thing the Windsors are good at, it’s holding a grudge.”

Philip has snubbed the Duchess of York ever since the summer of 1992. That’s when the spirited redhead was photographed having her toes sucked by a man who was not her father-in-law’s favorite son.

‘Don’t expect pistols at dawn, but there’s no love lost between them. If there’s one thing the Windsors are good at, it’s holding a grudge.’

But the ex-wife of Prince Andrew will be front and center at their younger daughter’s marriage. The swanky affair will be shown live on TLC.

Said Charles Rae, a veteran royal correspondent: “Fergie will be the second most important person there, after the bride.

“She makes steam come out Philip’s ears, but she will behave like the cat that got the cream.”

The diva-like presence of Sarah, Duchess of York, raises questions about the 58-year-old’s role in the royal family today and how it may change in the future. It’s no secret she has been treated as an interloper by other prominent members such as Prince Charles and Prince William for a quarter of a century.

But, earlier this year, she made an extraordinary comeback after being invited to the star-studded spring nuptials of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. Some of the crowd’s wildest applause was reserved for Fergie when she strutted to the chapel, head held high, in a fitted navy and pink ensemble.

“We’ve seen a resurgence, mostly because of the fanfare around her arrival in May, ” noted Seward. “She was super-friendly to everyone and it reminded people of how she used to be when she first appeared on the scene.

“The small glimpse we had of her that day was like the Fergie of old.”

The British public fell in love with naval officer Prince Andrew’s bubbly bride when she kissed him — a little too enthusiastically — on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day in July 1986.

As a child, the flame-haired daughter of Major Ron Ferguson, who ran The Guards Polo Club for Prince Philip, used to play tag with her future husband behind the stands at games. She was accustomed to meeting the Queen. When Fergie and the Prince began dating as adults, it seemed like the perfect match.

She appeared to have a jolly, everyday persona, embraced her royal duties and never seemed as shy as her one-time confidante, Princess Diana, wife of Prince Charles.

However, things quickly soured between the Brits and Fergie in 1987 after she ill-advisedly competed in a farcical British TV game show clad in medieval fancy dress. Reports surfaced of her extravagant spending. After the birth of her daughters, she gained weight and the tabloids brutally called her “The Duchess of Pork.” Later, Diana stopped speaking to her after she wrote in her biography that Di gave her plantar warts from a pair of borrowed shoes. They never got around to making up before Diana’s death in 1997.
Modal TriggerPrincess Beatrice, Sarah Ferguson and Princess Eugenie at an event in London.
Princess Beatrice, Sarah Ferguson and Princess EugenieGetty Images

Meanwhile, her relationship with Andrew deteriorated largely because of his long absences at sea and, when he was home, his penchant for vegging out in front of the TV. An announcement of their amicable separation was made in March 1992. It didn’t stop one BBC diplomatic correspondent from telling viewers: “The knives are out for Fergie in the palace.”

Three months later, explosive paparazzi pictures emerged of Fergie cavorting topless with her financial advisor, Johnny Bryan, in the South of France. Her children were in some of the other frames.

“She was at the Queen’s Scottish estate of Balmoral when the news broke,” recalled Rae, pointing out that, despite the separation, Fergie was still welcome as part of the family at that stage. “She was immediately told by an advisor that it would be best if she left for London.”

Subsequent scandals leading up to her divorce in 1996 included the Duchess being $6.5 million in debt to the royal bank, Coutts, due to her love of travel, clothing and luxury spas. In 1995, Lord Charteris, the Queen’s former private secretary, furiously branded her “a vulgarian. Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar.”

Explained Rae: “Her father was interviewed by the papers and said, ‘That’s what daughters do. They over-spend.’ It showed what kind of world these people lived in.”

The mother-of-two attempted to pay off her creditors by re-launching herself in America over an 11-year period. After the divorce, she endorsed companies such as Weight Watchers, Wedgwood pottery and Avon make-up, regularly crossing the pond on business. After a while, she took a home in the US.

But back in the UK, the hapless Duchess continued to make headlines for the wrong reasons. In 2010, she was videotaped by undercover reporters “selling access” to Prince Andrew, then a British government trade envoy, to a supposed Arab sheik for $665,000.

A year later, she appeared on Oprah and admitted that she had been tipsy during the meeting. She also blamed herself for numerous other mistakes. The women’s friendship led to Fergie appearing in a 9-part TV series “Finding Sarah” on the Oprah Winfrey Network, in which she met with the likes of financial advisor Suze Orman (who had stern words about her over-spending) and Dr. Phil.

It was around this time that she worked with a New York-based media consultant who spoke to The Post on condition of anonymity.

“She was determined to make it in the States because she was an outcast in the UK,” said the consultant. “She’d had enough contact with gurus to want to become one. She wanted to be the next Oprah, basically. She was the Becky Sharp of her era.”

Her ambitions were never realized, possibly because of her reluctance to make decisions.

“The problem with Fergie was that she’d meet business people, agree to everything they said and then meet another [rival] group and do the same,” said the source. “She was bitterly disappointed she never made it Stateside. If she suddenly got a call from ABC, she’d be all over it.

“She loves the American people and their positive attitude. She was basically born in the wrong country.”

She threw herself into her non-profits, including Children in Crisis, an international aid organization, but trouble knocked on her door once again in 2012. Turkey issued an international arrest warrant for Fergie, claiming she’d broken the law by trespassing with a TV crew at an orphanage and invading the privacy of children. Luckily for the former royal, the case fizzled out.

“She is 100 percent devoted to her charity work,” said Seward, whose forthcoming book, “My Husband and I,” documents the Queen’s 70-year marriage. “She’s a big-hearted person.”
Modal TriggerPrincess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank pose after they announced their engagement.
Princess Eugenie and Jack BrooksbankGetty Images

And big hearts need big pay checks. She receives no stipend from the royal family (though, in the past, she has enjoyed bailouts from Prince Andrew and his shady pedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein.) As Page Six exclusively revealed this week, Fergie has just been appointed pitch person for the “Italiano Diet” after signing a contract with controversial dietician Jean Lucca Mech. The regime allows followers to eat pizza, pasta and even chocolate as a means to lose weight.

The money will certainly help the Duchess live in the manner to which she has become accustomed. She resides, rent-free, with her ex-husband at Royal Lodge, the former home of the Queen Mother on the royal Windsor estate. Sharing houses has been their on-and-off living arrangement ever since their divorce. According to Seward, it works exceptionally well. Neither Prince Andrew or Fergie has remarried or carried on serious relationships since their split, although Fergie was romantically linked for several years to her “companion” Italian Count Gaddo della Gherardesca.

“Andrew is her best friend and they get on better than they did when they were married,” Seward said. Interviewed for her 18th birthday in Tatler magazine in 2008, Princess Eugenie, now 28, called her parents “the best divorced couple I know.”

The former husband and wife bought a $17 million chalet in Verbier, Switzerland, in 2015. There, Fergie hosted Prince Harry and his then-girlfriend Cressida Bonas for a vacation. Despite being left off the guest list at his brother William’s wedding to Kate Middleton, in April 2011, the Duchess has developed a warm and lasting relationship with Harry.

“She was very good to him,” said Seward. “And it was nice that he invited her to his wedding to Meghan, albeit just the ceremony and lunch.

“Fergie wasn’t invited to the evening party, even though her ex-husband and children were. She is constantly reminded that she’s an in-betweener.”

Asked whether Sarah might re-marry Andrew, Seward is not convinced. “The reason she hasn’t already is the reason she got out of the royal family. It was just too stifling. Now she’s got the best of both worlds, living with her prince without the restrictions of being married to him,” she said.

Rae, author of “The People’s Princess” and “The Queen Mum — Her First Hundred Years” disagrees. He can hear a second round of wedding bells — but only after the death of Prince Philip.

“It would never happen in his lifetime,” he told The Post. “If the Queen were still monarch, she may well give her permission but if Prince Charles is king, it might be more difficult.

“That said, when Charles has the top job, with Camilla advising him, he might not give a hoot.”

One thing’s for certain: Fergie can’t wait for the more immediate happening of Eugenie’s wedding to entrepreneur Brooksbank. The occasion is set to rival Harry and Meghan’s for glamor and celebrity. As well as David and Victoria Beckham, guests include Sir Elton John, James Blunt, Sophie Dahl and Robbie Williams.

The Queen will lay on a lavish lunch for the 850 guests after the newlyweds parade through Windsor in an open-top horse-drawn carriage. The procession — supposedly insisted upon by Prince Andrew, who wants his daughter to enjoy all the trappings of royalty — has caused controversy in the UK because tax payers are footing the $3.5 million security bill. More than 18,000 people signed a petition addressed to the House of Commons requesting that the royal family pay for Eugenie’s wedding in full.

But the man-on-the-street won’t be responsible for the sumptuous after-party at Royal Lodge over which Fergie will preside on Friday night and well into Saturday.

“She will love her moment back in the sun,” concluded Rae. After all, by the time of these revelries, Prince Philip should be safely tucked up in bed with a mug of warm cocoa.
By Jane Ridley
 

Join Geezgo for free. Use Geezgo's end-to-end encrypted Chat with your Closenets (friends, relatives, colleague etc) in personalized ways.>>

No comments