Sarah Ferguson Still Enjoys These Royal Privileges After Prince Andrew Divorce

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is the ultimate bounce-back success story. Her lavish wedding to Britain's Prince Andrew and her friendship with Princess Diana boded well for the monarchy. Yet just a few years later, the marriage began to falter, and the duchess' embarrassing "toe-sucking" photos exposed her extramarital relationship. Ferguson's rep took another blow when she was caught offering media access to her ex for half a million pounds in what turned out to be a sting setup. Prince Philip was reportedly so disgusted by his ex-daughter-in-law, he refused to associate with her at all.

Ferguson has not only endured, but thrived, despite her missteps. She's a popular author, a podcast host, and a frequent TV guest. More surprisingly, however, she has regained her standing within the royal family. While she'll always be bonded to the monarchy to some degree as the mother of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the duchess has slowly worked her way back into the in-laws' good graces. Despite their divorce, she and Andrew remain on very friendly terms; they still live together at the prince's home, the Royal Lodge. While there was no love lost between her and Philip, she shared a close relationship with the late Queen Elizabeth; on the monarch's death, Ferguson called her "a wonderful friend, a mentor, [and] a second mother to me." 

The duchess' other royal privileges — from her title to her pets to her final home — prove her road to redemption has been a long yet fruitful one.

She kept her Duchess title

Most newlyweds get gifts along the lines of dish sets and picture frames; British royals receive more prestigious things, like titles and patronages. On her wedding to Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson became the Duchess of York and assumed the right to be addressed as Her Royal Highness. Following her divorce, Ferguson lost the HRH title.

Ferguson was allowed to keep her other title, so her formal address is Sarah, Duchess of York. She uses it often in a professional setting, such as the podcast she hosts with Sarah Thomson, "Tea Talks With the Duchess and Sarah." Ferguson also includes her Duchess title as the author of numerous books for children and adults; she's seen here holding her historical novel "A Most Intriguing Lady." But she still embraces her informal nickname, "Fergie," in other settings. The young viewers who watch the "Storytime With Fergie & Friends" YouTube channel probably have no idea the nice lady reading picture books was once married to a prince.

She cares for two special royal pets

The late Queen Elizabeth II may have been a formidable ruler, but she had a softer side as well. Among her happiest moments were the times she spent with her beloved animals. The queen was an avid horsewoman who raised many thoroughbreds and enjoyed riding right up until a few weeks before her death. She was also rarely seen without one or more dogs by her side; her preferred breeds were Corgis, Cocker Spaniels, and "Dorgis," a mixed breed created by chance when one of her Corgis bred with a Dachshund owned by her sister, Princess Margaret. 

Two of the last dogs the queen owned in her lifetime were Muick and Sandy, gifted to her by Prince Andrew and his daughter Princess Beatrice, respectively. The loyal Corgi companions were at the monarch's side when she passed away peacefully in September 2022, and they appeared on the steps of Windsor Castle to watch her funeral procession. There was no question the queen wanted her pups to stay within the family, and it was her wish to have Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, take over their ownership.

Since that time, Ferguson has opened up about the queen's corgis on Instagram, often sharing adorable photos. On the first anniversary of the queen's death, the duchess posted a tribute that included the pic seen here. "She entrusted me with the care of her corgis Sandy and Muick, and I am delighted to say they are thriving," she wrote.

She rejoined a royal family tradition

As a result of her divorce from Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson lost the right to be included automatically in important family events. For instance, she was left off the guest list at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, now the Prince and Princess of Wales. Nor did she receive an invite to the coronation of King Charles III. "It's a state occasion, and being divorced, I don't think you can have it both ways," she told "Good Morning Britain." "[B]ut in private I can be there, and that's a lovely feeling, to be part of the family." The duchess was also relegated to guest status at Queen Elizabeth's funeral, rather than being a part of the royal procession.

But perhaps the biggest indicator that the king has reconciled with Sarah Ferguson occurred on Christmas Day 2023. Ferguson, along with Andrew and their daughters, joined the royal walkabout at Sandringham following holiday church services. It was the first time in three decades she had been a part of the annual tradition. Royal biographer Phil Dampier told The Sun that the late queen was a stickler about not including Ferguson in the event because of her divorce, but the new monarch seems willing to bend the rules. "It shows King Charles has a big heart by allowing Andrew to play a major role, as well as bringing his ex-wife."

She will receive a funeral fit for a princess

Sarah Ferguson's breast cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2023 was a scare for the duchess, her family, and fans alike, but thankfully, she appears to be in good health following a successful single mastectomy. Still, it served as a reminder that not even royals are immortal. When the time comes for Ferguson to leave this earth (hopefully, far in the future), she will receive one final privilege. Per the Daily Mail, Queen Elizabeth sanctioned an official state funeral for Ferguson because of her status as the mother of two "princesses of the blood royal."

The duchess will be given a formal church send-off at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Palace, well known for hosting royal events such as the weddings of Prince Harry, Princess Eugenie, and King Charles' nuptials to Queen Camilla. The chapel also contains the Royal Vault and the King George VI Memorial Chapel where a number of sovereigns are interred, including Queen Elizabeth, her husband, Prince Philip, her parents, and her sister, Princess Margaret. However, Ferguson's final resting place will be elsewhere on the royal property: the Royal Mausoleum and Royal Burial Grounds in Frogmore Gardens. Her company there includes Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and several of their children, along with the Duke of Windsor and his wife (formerly known as King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson).