Inside Sarah Ferguson And Prince Andrew's Relationship

There's no denying that there is a certain public fascination with royal couples. It seems we have an endless appetite for what appear to be fairytale love stories—there's Will and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or, back in the day, Charles and Diana or even Elizabeth and Philip. There is one royal couple that we don't talk about much these days — Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, or, as she was fondly known in the '80s and '90s, Fergie.

In their heyday, these two were royal favorites. In fact, the BBC reported that 500 million people from around the world tuned in to watch their wedding. These days, however, Andrew and Ferguson aren't exactly the fairytale couple we once thought they'd be. The couple divorced in 1996, and Andrew is, of course, now going through a controversial legal battle after being accused of sexual assault by multiple women. So, what exactly happened between this ill-fated royal couple?

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew met thanks to Princess Diana

Prince Andrew, the third child of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, reportedly had a string of unsuitable girlfriends. As a 1986 Vanity Fair article reported, however, that all changed when he reconnected with Sarah Ferguson, who was a childhood friend of the family, at the Royal Ascot in 1985. At the time, Ferguson was a good friend of Princess Diana, and apparently, it was she who introduced Ferguson to her brother-in-law, hoping it would develop into something romantic.

After Andrew's prior romantic attachments, Ferguson was allegedly quickly embraced and accepted by the royal family. Even though she was deemed suitable, she and Andrew seemed to have a real spark, too. "We're good friends and a good team," Ferguson reportedly said at the time. In fact, their connection was so strong, they dated for less than a year before Andrew proposed on his 26th birthday.

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew were married in 1986

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew tied the knot on July 23, 1986, only a year or so after they first began dating. The royal wedding was an extravagant, hugely publicized affair. According to Hello! Magazine, Ferguson traveled to Westminster Abbey in a glass carriage with her father, waving to the thousands of people who lined the streets along their route. The couple also had some celebrity guests including Elton John, Nancy Reagan, Estee Lauder, and Michael Caine.

Ferguson, like other royal brides, didn't skimp when it came to her wedding dress. She wore a satin gown designed by Lindka Cierach, covered in hearts, along with anchors and waves to symbolize her love for Andrew, who was a naval officer, and thistles and bumblebees, to symbolize her own family crest (via Town & Country). In 2021, Ferguson spoke of her wedding day during an appearance on Italian TV. Apparently, her wedding day was the "happiest day of her life" (via The Guardian).

Married life wasn't always easy for the couple

After their wedding, tensions grew fairly quickly between the couple. For one thing, Prince Andrew's naval career meant that Sarah Ferguson was often left on her own. "I married my boy, who happened to be a prince and a sailor, because I loved him — and still do — my only condition being, 'I have to be with you,'" she recalled to Harper's Bazaar. "And two weeks after the wedding, the courtiers told Andrew, who thought he'd be stationed in London, 'You have to go to sea.'" Ferguson went onto explain that he wasn't even there for most of her first pregnancy. "When Beatrice was born, Andrew got 10 days of shore leave, and when he left and I cried, they all said: 'Grow up and get a grip,'" she said.

In addition to the strain caused by his absence, Ferguson was also unused to life as a royal. Like other royal brides, she found herself under constant public scrutiny. As she told The Times, "When you marry into the family you give up your anonymity, and that comes with challenges but also opportunities."

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew separated in 1992 amid several scandals

In the early '90s, there were plenty of rumors surrounding Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew's marriage — namely, that Ferguson was having an affair (via Mirror). The pair officially separated in 1992. Shortly after, a series of paparazzi images of Ferguson and her financial adviser, John Bryan, were published. According to The Washington Post, the pictures showed the pair "smooching, snuggling, nuzzling, embracing, back-rubbing and generally carrying on." One infamous photo even featured Bryan sucking Ferguson's toe.

The scandal seemed to sour things between Fergie and the royal family. The Queen's private secretary apparently called her "vulgar, vulgar, vulgar" at the time (via The Guardian). According to royal biographer Penny Junor, the scandal was "the end" for Fergie and her ties to the family. "She [Ferguson] was at Balmoral [Castle] when those photographs came out. The family came down for breakfast and there was Fergie in this shocking scene and that was the end," she said on the show "The Royal Wives of Windsor" (via Express).

Sarah Ferguson struck a divorce deal with the Queen

Even though Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew separated in 1992, they didn't officially divorce until 1996. As Ferguson later told Harper's Bazaar, she ended up striking a deal with the Queen. "I didn't want a divorce but had to because of circumstance," she said. Apparently, Ferguson wanted to earn her own money. "It's not right for a princess of the royal house to be commercial, so Andrew and I decided to make the divorce official so I could go off and get a job," she said.

As Ferguson went on to explain, she only had one request: as she put it, she wanted "friendship, not money." Instead of asking for a large divorce settlement, she requested that she could remain close to the royal family. This meant that Ferguson left the marriage without having to "fight" the Queen for money.

In the end, her settlement was just £15,000 (around $20,300) a year. And even though Ferguson claimed to want a small settlement, according to The Guardian, she was bitter not to have been given a little more.

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew still shared a home after their divorce in 1996

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew are definitely an unusual divorced couple. As MyLondon reported in 2022, the pair are still living under the same roof more than 25 years after their divorce. Apparently, the pair live at Royal Lodge, a home that is part of the Windsor Estate.

As Ferguson explained to The Telegraph, their bizarre living situation has meant that they could co-parent their two children. "We are co-parents who support each other and believe that family is everything," she said. "I'm proud of the job we have done together in bringing up our children and sustaining a strong family unit."

As far as Ferguson is concerned, Royal Lodge isn't exactly her home. "I travel a lot," she told The Times. "When I'm in the U.K. I'm lucky enough to stay at Royal Lodge [Prince Andrew's official residence]," she added. "I wouldn't call it my home as that would be presumptuous."

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew consider themselves a 'contented divorced couple'

One thing's for certain: There's no longer any (if there ever was) bad blood between Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew. In fact, in 2021, she told The Telegraph, "We always say we are the most contented divorced couple in the world. We're divorced to each other, not from each other." And, in 2020, when asked if she still loved Andrew, Ferguson told the Daily Mail, "We both say it. We are completely compatible. Our bywords are communication, compromise and compassion." In fact, their relationship is so close, rumors even began to swirl in 2021 that the couple might remarry (via Hello! Magazine).

Of course, the sexual assault allegations against Andrew may have caused a rift between him and his ex-wife. However, it seems that Fergie is determined to stand by him. "She has not just stood silently by his side," royal biographer Penny Junor told The Guardian. "She actually speaks out in favour of him."