Sarah Ferguson Was The Only Exception To A Royal Rule At The Queen's Funeral

Although she was missing from the mourning services for Queen Elizabeth II, Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was in attendance at Her Majesty's funeral. Clad in an all-black ensemble and wearing a brooch in the shape of a swallow — a symbol of love and mourning from the Victorian era (per the Mirror) — the Duchess of York accompanied her two daughters, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, to the services.

Although Fergie and Andrew divorced in 1996, the exes still live together at Royal Lodge in Windsor, per Hello!, and when news of the queen's passing was announced, Fergie rushed back to the U.K. from the Venice Film Festival. "I am heartbroken by the passing of Her Majesty the Queen," Fergie wrote on Instagram. "She leaves behind an extraordinary legacy: the most fantastic example of duty and service and steadfastness, and a constant steadying presence as our head of state for more than 70 years."

Even after her split from the prince, Fergie reportedly remained close to Queen Elizabeth — the two spending time "walking the dogs in Frogmore and chatting," as an insider told The Telegraph (via Page Six). Fergie mentioned her former mother-in-law's kindness in the Instagram post, revealing that she "will always be grateful to her for the generosity she showed me in remaining close to me even after my divorce."

And that enduring relationship scored Fergie an invite to the funeral services — an honor that other royal exes were not bestowed. 

Sarah Ferguson was the only royal ex invited to the queen's funeral

While Sarah Ferguson, who was formerly married to Prince Andrew, attended Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, other royal exes were not extended the same invitation. Serena Snowdon, who was married to Elizabeth's nephew, David Armstrong-Jones, for 27 years; Autumn Phillips, former wife of the queen's grandson, Peter Phillips; and Captain Mark Phillips, the ex-husband of Princess Anne, were not at the funeral services, according to the Daily Mail.

"Because it was a state funeral protocol had to be enforced. All the Heads of State, Commonwealth leaders and foreign Kings and Queens had priority over friends," Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, explained (per the Daily Mail). "The committal service at Windsor was more for family and friends and former and current staff from the royal households," she continued, "Fergie was invited as a personal friend of the Monarch as well as the mother of Beatrice and Eugenie the only two of the Queens grandchildren to have been made Princesses."

Considering the guest list for the committal service had been trimmed down to only 800 people, per the Washington Post, the line had to be drawn somewhere. And according to Seward, it's "usually drawn at former royal husbands or wives." Everyone else had to watch the televised ceremony alongside the estimated 4 billion other royal watchers around the globe. 

Fergie and Prince Andrew were bestowed another honor following the queen's death

The queen's closeness with Sarah Ferguson was solidified in the late monarch's decision to leave her beloved corgis in Fergie and Prince Andrew's care. "The corgis will return to live at Royal Lodge with the duke and duchess. It was the duchess who found the puppies, which were gifted to Her Majesty by the duke," a source told People.

Although Queen Elizabeth owned more than 30 corgis throughout her lifetime, only two — in addition to one "dorgi" — were by her side in the end. According to the BBC, their names are Muick, Sandy, and Candy. The outlet also mentioned that Prince Andrew and his two daughters gifted Muick (in addition to another puppy names Fergus) to the late queen in 2021 in the hopes that they would cheer her up while her husband, Prince Philip, was enduring an isolated hospital stay during the pandemic.