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Sarah Ferguson, once a 'black sheep,' returns to royal fold: 'She turned disappointment into dollars'

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is enjoying a comeback as an author after years of being targeted by tabloids. The mother of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie has been on a media tour in the U.S.

Sarah Ferguson has come a long way from being targeted by tabloids.

The Duchess of York, famously known as "Fergie," has recently written a historical novel titled "A Most Intriguing Lady." The book is a follow-up to her 2021 Victorian romance, "Her Heart for a Compass," which was inspired by the life and loves of her great-great-great aunt.

Most recently, she was on a successful media tour in the U.S., making appearances on "Good Morning America," "The View" and "The Kelly Clarkson Show," among others.

"When it comes to tabloid scrutiny, Sarah is a living example of 'keep calm and carry on,'" Kinsey Schofield, host of the "To Di For Daily" podcast, told Fox News Digital. "The criticism hurt her, but it also motivated her, and she turned that disappointment into dollars!"

"Fergie’s decision to come to the United States to work was before the world of social media," Schofield shared. "She intended to not embarrass or disrupt the royal family with her professional pursuits. She did so by pursuing employment in a foreign country. This was a thoughtful and clever solution to her financial woes."

During a recent appearance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City to promote her latest book, the 63-year-old said she’s "had a lot of mental problems" that she kept private.


"I’ve always managed to hide [them] very well," said the mother of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. "People-pleasing, over-generosity, gift-giving, all that sort of stuff. [It was], ‘They can’t love me. I have no self-worth, therefore I must over-compensate.’ And it’s a thing I talk about very candidly."

Ferguson, who was described as "a freckled, bouncy socialite" by the press, is the daughter of Maj. Ronald Ferguson, who was a polo manager for the former Prince Charles. She is a descendent of 17th-century monarch King Charles II and her maternal grandmother was a Montagu Douglas Scott from the family of the Duke of Buccleuch.

Ferguson was a sales executive in a London graphics and printing firm when she and Charles’ younger brother, Prince Andrew, announced their engagement in 1986. At the time, the prince said they had known each other since "we were 4 or 5, but we only really noticed each other fairly recently." Leading up to the engagement, Ferguson was dogged by reporters for weeks, just like her close friend Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.

The couple became the Duke and Duchess of York when they married in 1986 — but life for Ferguson was far from a "happily ever after."

"She faced intense scrutiny and criticism from the press in the early years of her marriage to Prince Andrew," royal expert Hilary Fordwich told Fox News Digital. "She was ridiculed for her weight, her ill-fitting clothes and her lack of fashion sense with it being referred to as a ‘no style zone.' She endured being ridiculed as the ‘Duchess of Pork.'"

"While she has spoken at length about the judgmental cruel British press and the trauma the tabloids have caused her, she most certainly isn’t the only member of the royal family to either have received such treatment or to have overcome the scrutiny and criticism," Fordwich pointed out. "There is a sort of nuanced 'deal' with the press. The royals are expected to serve, to work hard and not to expect a constant flow of positive publicity."


In 2007, Ferguson admitted she struggled with a compulsive eating disorder since she was 12. According to the Evening Standard, Ferguson described how after her mother left for Argentina, she found solace in food. She also admitted that the press comparing her to the glamorous Princess Diana made her struggle with her weight. She said it was "very frightening" to follow "a magnificent star" like the Princess of Wales.

"Fergie, like Diana, was an original, a breath of fresh air, someone who for years was Diana's partner in crime, as it were — an outsider trying to shake up the stuffy royal establishment," Christopher Andersen, author of "The King," told Fox News Digital.

"In the process, she was pilloried in the press as crass, boorish, and unkempt," he shared. "While Diana coped with a life-threatening eating disorder, the tabloids constantly ridiculed Fergie for being overweight… the fat-shaming was appalling and went on for years. That, along with being constantly criticized by the same palace officials who bullied Diana, took its toll."

Ferguson also found herself alone. Andrew’s demanding naval career meant the couple was often apart, causing the marriage to unravel early on. Two weeks after the wedding, Andrew, who thought he’d be stationed in London, was told otherwise.

"I spent my entire first pregnancy alone," she told Harper’s Bazaar in 2007. "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.'"

"I married my boy, who happened to be a prince and a sailor because I loved him — and still do — [with] my only condition being, 'I have to be with you,'" she added.


Despite welcoming two daughters, the union couldn’t be saved, and the couple legally separated in 1992. Later that year, Ferguson was the subject of an explosive scandal when intimate photos taken of her were made public. It was alleged that the queen was furious and Ferguson's relationship with Prince Philip was impacted. The Duke and Duchess of York's divorce was finalized in 1996.

"Whatever success Fergie has had was born out of necessity," Andersen explained. "When she divorced Andrew in 1996, Fergie had to accept a $20,000 annual settlement to appease the queen. Fergie suddenly had to fend for herself. At the time there was no internet, no social media, no Netflix, no influencers — none of the kinds of lucrative opportunities that Meghan Markle has so expertly availed herself of."

According to reports, Ferguson was estranged from the royal family following the photo scandal. She clarified to Harper’s Bazaar that she wasn’t holding out for a large settlement from the royal family — she simply wanted to be on good terms with her in-laws.

"When I met with her majesty about it, she asked, 'What do you require, Sarah?,'" Ferguson recalled. "I said, 'Your friendship,' which I think amazed her because everyone said I would demand a big settlement. But I wanted to be able to say, 'Her majesty is my friend'— not fight her nor have lawyers saying, 'Look, she is greedy.' I left my marriage knowing I'd have to work. I have."

Ferguson went to work on launching her career. That year, she founded Hartmoor, a lifestyle and wellness company. Over the years, she also published her memoirs and authored several children’s books. As for her public image, she famously became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. She currently campaigns for her Children in Crisis International charity and works on historical documentaries and films that draw on her interest in Victorian history. In addition, she's the founder of Sarah’s Trust, a non-profit that supports charities across the globe.

"Once she divorced Andrew and was jettisoned from the royal inner circle, Fergie was free to pursue a career as a children's book author, sell her own line of beauty products on QVC and hit the lecture circuit," said Andersen. "Her ultimate revenge came in the late 1990s when she shed 50 pounds and began doing television commercials for Weight Watchers."


"She has recently stated that the hounding and taunting from the tabloid media made her stronger and helped her transform herself, carving out her own identity as an author," said Fordwich. "She learned to ignore the press and instead focus on her own goals and passions. Her strong family support system and close friends buoyed her."

"So the main reason for her partial redemption has been her dedication to charitable work, long admired by both the royals and British public, as well as her commitment to helping children, thus the tabloids relented," Fordwich noted.

Schofield said she admired Ferguson’s determination to have a close-knit bond with the queen. Following the queen’s death in September, a palace spokesman confirmed her two surviving corgis, Sandy and Muick, would live with Ferguson and her ex-husband. The beloved pooches were gifted to the queen by the pair, along with their daughters.

She’s hopeful for the next chapter of Ferguson’s life.

"I think the secret to her success is staying in the shadows until she has something to promote or something of value to say," said Schofield. "Fergie understands the mystique required to stay relevant. She has also become a pro at reinventing herself."

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