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InsightThe Yorks

15 facts about Sarah, Duchess of York

Sarah, Duchess of York and Princess Beatrice

As Sarah, Duchess of York marks her birthday today, learn more about the ex-daughter-in-law of The Queen:

  • Sarah Margaret Ferguson was born on October 15, 1959, at London Welbeck Hospital to Major Ronald Ferguson and Susan Ferguson (née Wright, currently Barrantes). She was the second daughter to the couple who sadly divorced in 1974. Sarah has three half-siblings from her father’s second marriage.
  • The Duchess has described her family as “country gentry with a bit of old money.” This is due to the family being descended from King Charles II’s and three of his illegitimate children. Sarah is also related to former American President John Quincy Adams.
  • Following her parent’s divorce, her mother got remarried to Hector Barrantes and moved to Argentina, leaving her two daughters with their father in England. Sarah was subsequently bought up on Dummer Down Farm in Hampshire and educated at Daneshill School in Stratfield Turgis, Hampshire.
  • She has known Prince Andrew since the pair were children but rekindled their friendship – and ultimate romance – at Ascot, Berkshire in 1985.
  •  The couple announced their engagement on 19 March 1986. Prince Andrew designed Sarah’s engagement ring himself, choosing ten diamonds surrounding a Burmese ruby to compliment her red hair.
  • The pair married at Westminster Abbey on July 23, 1986, and Andrew was bestowed the title of the Duke of York. Sarah then became the Duchess of York. Their wedding party included Prince Edward as best man, as well as young Prince William and his cousins, Peter and Zara Phillips among the page boys and bridesmaids.
  • The couple had their first daughter, Princess Beatrice Elizabeth Mary of York on August 8, 1988. She was born at Portland Hospital and is the fifth grandchild of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
  • Their second daughter, Princess Eugenie Victoria Helena of York on March 23, 1990, was also born at Portland Hospital. At the time of her birth, she was sixth in line to the throne; as of 2020, she is in tenth place.
  •  Sarah and Andrew announced their divorce in 1992 after multiple famous scandals. Despite this, they still live together on the Windsor Estate at Royal Lodge. Their daughter Princess Eugenie has described them as “The best divorced couple [I] know”.
  • Sarah, Duchess of York has had severe financial struggles and is remembered for her many attempts to make money. Some examples include the many ridiculed social TV experiments where the Duchess would travel to a council estate in the UK and advise the residents on clean and healthy living.
  •  Despite no longer being an HRH, The Queen still invites Sarah to the Balmoral Estate over the summer because she admires her as a mother and the way she has raised her two daughters.
  • Even after her divorce in 1992, Sarah continued her important charity work with organisations such as the Teenage Cancer Trust and, in 1993, set up Children in Crisis – a charity which aims to improve the lives of children and women from underprivileged backgrounds in third-world nations.
  • Sarah, Duchess of York is a very successful author, with a huge collection of children’s books, as well as multiple books based on the life of Queen Victoria. Sarah has also written an autobiography titled ‘My Story’ (1997), as well as many self-help books such as ‘What I Know Now: Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way’ (2003).
  •  She has two sons-in-law, Jack Brooksbank, who married Princess Eugenie on October 12, 2018, and Edoardo Mapelli-Mozzi, who married Princess Beatrice on July 17, 2020.
  •  Sarah is set to become a grandmother for the first time in Spring of 2021 when her younger daughter, Princess Eugenie gives birth.