Can Sarah Ferguson reconcile the Windsors?

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It has not escaped anyone’s notice that Sarah Ferguson is back in the spotlight. In recent months, Prince Andrew’s ex-wife has made numerous appearances while appearing several times alongside the royal family, always smiling. An unwavering supporter of the Duke of York despite the affairs that overwhelm him, “Fergie” now seems to have the favor of King Charles III, who has been brought closer by the ordeal of cancer. Could Sarah, with her legendary spontaneity, now be the only one capable of calming tensions?

Her name no longer appears in the popularity polls of members of the royal family conducted by the YouGov institute. If her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, has been in last place since the sexual accusations made against him by Virginia Giuffre and his withdrawal from public life in 2019, it is a safe bet that Sarah Ferguson would be rubbing shoulders with the top 5. Today appreciated by the British, “Fergie”, joyful, funny, spontaneous, has made her cheerful character her best asset, the strength that has helped her bounce back despite the various scandals that have tarnished her. It must be said that there have been many controversies since her divorce from the Duke of York in 1992.

Controversies and redemption

After the humiliation of the photos of her with her lover published by the tabloids, her various attempts to exist outside the Windsor fold are all viewed with suspicion. Children’s books, diets, TV shows, advertising, Fergie no longer knows how to exist. Disgrace could have befallen her in 2010 when she was trapped, by a hidden camera, trying to sell access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew: she asked for 500,000 pounds sterling to play matchmaker. Mortified, Sarah will apologize publicly on American television, on Oprah Winfrey’s show. “There are not enough words to describe an act of such gross stupidity. I am completely exposed. […] It happened and now we have to move on. I beg for forgiveness.”

The following year, while Jeffrey Epstein was serving his first prison sentence for sexual abuse of minors, she released a statement saying she “deeply regretted that Jeffrey Epstein was involved in any way with me. […] I cannot stress enough that I know I made a terrible, terrible error in judgment.” Two cases that could have cost her dearly and made her a pariah. Amazingly, “Fergie” held firm. All that seems to be ancient history.

So have her in-laws and the rest of the country forgiven her for her mistakes? According to Philip Turle, a British journalist and international columnist at France 24, “the British, like the royal family, put up with her escapades but they have since moved on. Sarah Ferguson has always managed to gain the sympathy of her fellow citizens by giving of herself for the Crown”. An astonishing popularity rating while she continues to claim her support for Prince Andrew, who has become definitively unsavoury.

This relationship with her ex, which could tarnish her image, has only made her more endearing: because “Fergie”, like Queen Elizabeth, will not let go of Andrew. “I told him before he died [Elizabeth II]: ‘I will be there with him [Prince Andrew], I will help him on his journey,’ Sarah explained to the press in 2023… I will do it because he deserves it.'” Better still, Sarah, for whom the Queen has always had great affection, has taken over part of the late sovereign’s legacy. Mocked, scorned and then discredited, despite all these disappointments, the flamboyant redhead is still there, especially on social media.

The only one capable of reconciling the royal family?

She took advantage of the 2020 lockdowns, in the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic, to launch a YouTube channel where she filmed herself reading children’s stories. Since then, she has chosen Instagram to share her daily life, her commitments, her joys and her sorrows. She appears with her two daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, her greatest pride, thanks her supporters when she reveals, in the summer of 2023, that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Messages of friendship pour in from all over the world. A skin cancer six months later strengthens the public’s attachment. Sarah has since been invited to several public events with the Windsors where she continues to display the good nature that has always characterized her. “She doesn’t really have an active role but her presence with the Windsors is significant,” explains Philip Turle. “She has been a great support to Kate, Princess of Wales, and King Charles III, since the announcement of their respective cancers.” Her warm messages skillfully addressed to Charles III and Kate have also been well received.

Her difficult journey has made Sarah a model of resilience. An essential quality to strengthen the strained ties between the members of the royal family today? “She is a bit like an emissary sent to plead Andrew’s case to his brother,” says Philip Turle, because the king is not as indulgent as their mother was towards her favorite son. For the York couple, the stakes are high: keeping their home at Royal Lodge, which has already required considerable renovation work. A source of tension between the two brothers.

However, “Fergie” and Charles have the same priority: maintaining the unity of The Firm in the storm. The disgrace of Prince Andrew, the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan, the death of Elizabeth II, Charles and Kate’s cancers; the last four years have been trying. Sarah, who has always publicly expressed her respect for the monarchy, intends to represent the Crown as best she can, even if she is no longer, strictly speaking, an active member of the system. “I think the unity of the family is essential … I think the key to life is that we all support each other,” she told People magazine a few weeks ago. “And forgiveness is also a great thing. I think you have to forgive yourself and forgive others.” At 64, surrounded by her image of a combative woman who seems unstoppable, she seems to be the best placed to ease tensions among the Windsors and reconcile everyone. “Fergie” is like the phoenix, always capable of rising from the ashes. What could be more normal for someone whose motto is “Ex adversis felicitas crescit” “From adversity grows happiness”?

This article is originally published on pointdevue.fr

 

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