The two close friends, who increasingly came to rely on each other as their marriages hit the buffers, were treated very differently by the Royal Family in their final days. Unlike Princess Diana, who never quite seemed at ease as a royal, the Duchess of York adjusted easily to her new role and was fully embraced by the Royal Family. But as their marriages drew to a close, opinions towards them changed within the Windsor household.
For the Duchess, they changed for the worse, as she was seen as the guilty party in the breakdown of her marriage.
Both women struggled in their relationships with their respective husbands, but for very different reasons.
In Diana’s case, it became apparent very early on that Prince Charles had never got over his love for Camilla Parker Bowles.
Whereas Sarah Ferguson found dealing with the intense loneliness that came with being the wife of a serving naval officer extremely difficult.
The two women began to confide more and more in one another, as their unhappiness drew them closer together.
As the Duchess revealed in her autobiography, My story: Sarah the Duchess of York, they both sensed that the end could be near.
She wrote: “ was the year we first put words to the unspeakable idea that had been nudging us in the ribs for some time: that one or both of us might leave the royal family.
“We burned the phone wires into the night, trading secrets and jokes that no-one else would understand.”
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When Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla was exposed in a leaked phone call, Princess Diana received both public and royal sympathy for her plight, as she was perceived as being the wronged party.
The Queen finally consented to their divorce, and Princess Diana was awarded a generous compensation package.
In addition to a spacious three-level apartment at Kensington Palace, she got access to the royal private jets for travel, was given a one-off payment of around £18 million, as well as a roughly £400,000 annual salary for her private office and staff.
The Duchess of York received a fraction of this for her divorce settlement, most likely because she was seen as the transgressor.
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Her divorce was set in motion after she was photographed topless with oil tycoon John Bryan, who was also sucking her toes.
By all accounts the Royal Family was not amused with Sarah Ferguson’s indiscretion, and that displeasure appeared to be reflected in her severance package.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Fergie got a mere £16,000 a year as a salary, as well as just under £500,000 to buy a house.
She also received about £1.4 million to start a trust fund for her daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
Finally, she was given a one-off cash payment of approximately £370,000.
All of this was not enough to maintain her lavish lifestyle and she would run into major debt in the following years.
Sarah Ferguson would go on to find fame and fortune as a children’s author, writing Budgie: The little Helicopter and the Little Red series.
Fergie and Prince Andrew remain on very good terms despite their divorce, and was described by her former husband as being the rock in his life during a speech at her 60th birthday party last year.
They still live together at their 30-room home in Berkshire and decided to do so for the sake of their daughters.