Click the button for the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic and how it is impacting the royals

British RoyalsThe Yorks

Sarah, Duchess of York reveals family’s loss to a food allergy

He was the uncle she never knew but now Sarah, Duchess of York has shared his story as she took on a new patronage with a charity aiming to end deaths from food allergies. Speaking to ITV News, Sarah revealed that her father’s brother died at the age of 10 after eating a crab sandwich.

Her family’s sad story was revealed as she helped launch The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation of which she is patron. It’s been set up in memory of fifteen year old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who died after an allergic reaction to a sandwich. The foundation aims to set up a centre of excellence at Southampton University to support and extend research into food allergies as well as promote extensive labelling and information initiatives to try and stop people dying of reactions to what they eat.

It was during interviews about the foundation that Sarah revealed her own family’s story.Her uncle, John Ferguson, passed away in 1939 just minutes after eating the crab sandwich during a day out on the beach with his nanny. The duchess said that her father, Ronald, was ‘never the same after that’ while her grandmother never forgot John, adding that meeting Tanya and Nadim had made her realise just what the family went through.

Sarah, Duchess of York became involved with Natasha’s family in the saddest of circumstances. Natasha died on board a flight to Nice after eating a baguette bought at Pret-a-Manger at Heathrow airport. She had an allergic reaction to sesame in the sandwich – it wasn’t listed as one of the ingredients on the packaging. Sarah met Natasha’s parents, Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, on the flight that they took to bring their daughter’s body home.

On the Instagram page for Natasha’s Foundation, they revealed that they had got talking it was a chance meeting and spoke of Sarah’s empathy as a mother with the tragic situation they found themselves in. The duchess said she was proud to be a part of Natasha’s Legacy which was launched on the same day that the UK government announced that as of 2021, food companies will have to list all ingredients on labels on their pre-packaged produce.

That change follows a campaign by Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse. They welcomed the decision as did Sarah who added ”there is much more work to do to promote research”.

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.