The Truth About Queen Elizabeth's Relationship With Sarah Ferguson

Queen Elizabeth's relationship with her children has been under intense scrutiny for many years, but in the wake of the death of her long-time husband and consort, Prince Philip, in 2021, family became more important to the monarch than ever before. As the Daily Mail reported, senior members of the royal family — including King Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla — accompanied Her Majesty during public events in the immediate aftermath of Philip's passing, while at home, her family rallied around her.

Her son Prince Andrew's ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, wasn't immediately welcomed back into the fold, however. As Good Housekeeping notes, the couple tied the knot in 1986 and divorced a decade later, with Fergie blaming her husband's extensive traveling schedule. The queen's relationship with her son was strained throughout the separation, but she took his side completely, at least in public. Otherwise, Her Majesty reportedly only tolerated the Duchess of York's presence for the sake of her grandchildren.

But with the heartbreaking death of Queen Elizabeth II bringing the royal family back together again, it's worth taking a closer look at the bond these two women truly shared. 

Queen Elizabeth wanted Sarah Ferguson to reconsider leaving Prince Andrew

According to PopSugar, Queen Elizabeth II didn't agree with Sarah Ferguson divorcing Prince Andrew. The Duchess of York wrote in her biography: "She asked me to reconsider, to be strong and go forward." And, when Ferguson was subsequently photographed in a compromising position prior to the split being publicly announced, the queen took it as a major slap in the face. Speaking in documentary "Fergie Vs Diana: Royal Wives at War," royal expert Jennie Bond revealed: "The queen was livid. She was absolutely furious with Sarah," (via The News). 

Moreover, once Fergie lost her royal status, she stopped being invited to official events. Likewise, although the duchess and Andrew remain on good terms, in 2010, tabloids alleged she had tried to sell a story about her ex-husband — something Ferguson emphatically denied in an interview with Harper's Bazaar. She was excluded from family holidays for years too, but the duchess never gave up the fight, particularly when it came to winning her mother-in-law over. 

In fact, Fergie memorably requested the queen's friendship in her divorce settlement, as she told Harper's Bazaar.

The Duchess of York's relationship with the queen vastly improved after Prince Philip's death

Her Majesty may have disagreed with how Sarah Ferguson chose to live her life, but the queen's relationship with the Duchess of York vastly improved following the death of Prince Philip. The Daily Mail confirms the queen and the duchess fell out badly after salacious shots of Fergie with another man were splashed all over the tabloids, despite the fact that she and Prince Andrew were already divorced.

Prince Philip himself described Ferguson as an "odd" and "pointless" person, and tried to avoid the duchess as much as possible. The Duke of Edinburgh had such an issue with Ferguson that he stopped other family members from helping her when she was having financial problems. Philip also openly disagreed with the duchess remaining close with Prince Andrew, to the extent that Fergie wasn't invited to his funeral.

The queen remained cordial with her and, following Philip's death, the women gradually became close once again. An insider told The Irish Sun in 2021, "Sarah's very much in the fold now that the Duke of Edinburgh has gone. The Queen has always had a soft spot for Sarah and regards her as an excellent mother."

Sarah Ferguson posted a heartbreaking tribute to the queen

The renewed closeness between Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and Queen Elizabeth II was never clearer than when Her Majesty passed in September 2022. Ferguson took to Instagram to post an emotional tribute to her mother-in-law, during which she acknowledged being "heartbroken" by the loss. 

The duchess gushed, "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," adding, "She has given her whole life selflessly to the people of the UK and the Commonwealth." 

However, the most pertinent element was personal, with Fergie revealing the queen had remained a steadfast supporter until the end. She acknowledged, "I will always be grateful to her for the generosity she showed me in remaining close to me even after my divorce." Finally, Ferguson admitted, "I will miss her more than words can express."

Royal watchers wondered why Fergie was absent from mourning events

Considering they reportedly had a close relationship right up until the moment she passed, it was alarming when Sarah Ferguson was completely absent from official events marking the queen's death. The problem was likely her continued connection to Prince Andrew, with a source reassuring The Daily Beast he was only back with the royals for a short time while mourning his mother, and would "disappear" from public view once all was said and done.

As one Twitter user put it, "King Charles starting his reign by handing out redundancy notices [and] allowing the disgraced Prince Andrew back into the fold to carry out royal duties ... is truly a choice." Fergie had previously courted major controversy by posting a supportive message for her ex-husband to Instagram. However, the Daily Mail confirmed she would be at the queen's funeral regardless — alongside Andrew, naturally.

The Duchess of York proudly attended Her Majesty's funeral

Thankfully, despite being noticeably missing from events leading up to the queen's funeral, the Duchess of York was front and center on the day itself. The Daily Mail reported she attended the service at Westminster Abbey alongside daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Sarah Ferguson looked to be in good spirits, under the circumstances, suggesting she was simply happy to be included. 

Still, Hello! Magazine later noted the duchess was visibly emotional during the service. Moreover, per the Daily Mail, Beatrice and Eugenie were "distraught" at having to watch their grandmother's coffin being taken away. The sisters appeared to leave the service early, according to Sky News, but they soon re-joined their family. Ferguson reportedly looked as though she wanted to make a quick exit too, but she didn't actually leave.

Notably, Page Six highlighted that the Duchess of York was given a prime position at the funeral, sitting in the second row alongside Eugenie and the queen's nephew, David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon. Given it was her first public appearance since the beloved monarch's death, the seating arrangement is especially noteworthy. 

Sarah Ferguson saw the queen as a 'mentor'

Crucially, Sarah Ferguson never wavered on her love for the queen. In fact, according to People, during a chat on the "Tea with Twiggy" podcast, the Duchess of York told the legendary supermodel, "Honestly, my mother-in-law has been more of a mother to me than my mother." The outlet notes that Fergie's mother, Susan Barrantes, who passed away following a traffic collision in 1998, left when Ferguson was a child to start a new life in Argentina with husband and professional polo player Héctor Barrantes.

Fergie continued, "I absolutely admire the incredible way Her Majesty is so modern ... and how flexible, and how understanding, and how forgiving and how generous." She even described the long-reigning monarch as her "greatest mentor" and the "person who believes in me" the most. The duchess made her respect of the queen publicly known by curtsying deeply upon her arrival at the Royal Ascot, for instance.

PopSugar reveals Ferguson even wrote in her autobiography that she called Her Majesty "mama" behind closed doors. 

The Duke and Duchess of York were given the honor of caring for Queen Elizabeth's corgis

Arguably the biggest indicator that Queen Elizabeth II and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, had a strong relationship is the fact that she and ex-husband Prince Andrew were given the honor of caring for Her Majesty's beloved dogs after her passing. The Guardian confirmed that, per a spokesperson for the Duke of York, the former couple will take on Muick and Sandy — both of whom, funnily enough, were gifts from Andrew himself and daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie — for the rest of their lives.

Corgi Muick was a mid-lockdown gift, alongside dorgi (a dachshund-corgi cross) Fergus, who sadly passed away in May 2021, which is when Beatrice and Eugenie swooped in to gift their grandmother corgi Sandy for her 95th birthday — and to soften the blow following the death of Prince Philip. 

Finding the pooches a proper home was of utmost importance to the queen, who described them as "family." As biographer Ingrid Seward quipped, "It would seem most logical that the corgis go to Andrew ... Let's face it, he hasn't got anything else to do."

The queen and Sarah Ferguson were known for giving each other thoughtful gifts

According to Hello! Magazine, when Sarah Ferguson was first introduced to the queen, she tripped over one of her beloved dogs in front of everybody. Fortunately, that minor indiscretion wasn't held against her, with the two women becoming fast friends, especially since they both loved horses. Over the years, Her Majesty gave the Duchess of York many expensive gifts. For her wedding, Fergie donned the York tiara, which is described as "a floral-shaped diamond scroll headpiece designed by Garrard."

The duchess kept the piece, a present from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, and was spotted wearing it many times over, even after she and Prince Andrew split up. Likewise, her mother-in-law gifted Fergie a diamond demi-parure, also from Garrard, comprising a pair of earrings with matching necklace and bracelet that, again, she valued for the rest of her life. 

As for the Duchess of York, she gave the queen a handmade table lamp by designer Rosanna Lonsdale one Christmas, which held pride of place in Her Majesty's private living room at Buckingham Palace. The stunning motif was inspired by the sweet peas growing in Balmoral.

Fergie paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth in a sweet way at her funeral

Evidently, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of York also bonded over their love of jewelry, so it makes sense Sarah Ferguson paid tribute to the monarch at the funeral with an eye-catching piece. The Mirror notes Fergie accessorized her all-black ensemble with a silver brooch placed conspicuously on the lapel of her chic coat dress. It was a bejeweled swallow, which signifies love and mourning in the Victorian era. 

Likewise, the swallow also symbolizes journeys, which is notable considering the queen was about to embark on her final trip to Windsor. In Christianity, the swallow has a similarly deep meaning, symbolizing the Incarnation of Christ and his Resurrection. The queen would have appreciated this nod in particular, since her Christian faith was evident throughout her lengthy reign. Per BBC News, multiple religious leaders paid tribute to her.

As Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, put it: "Here was a woman who lived her faith — who served the Lord at every moment of her life and who really wrote faith into everything that she thought, said and did."