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Iconic weddings: Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

March 10, 2011
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How they met 

Prince Andrew and his future wife Sarah Ferguson first met when they were children. Born to aristocratic ancestry, Sarah saw a great deal of the British royal family as she was growing up, recalling in her autobiography sneaking away from her father's polo matches to "play tag with like-minded truants – including Prince Andrew, who was just my age. "After graduating from secretarial school, Sarah took on a number of jobs – including working in a PR firm and an art gallery – all the while maintaining a jetset lifestyle.Then, in 1985, she became reacquainted with her childhood friend at a party held at Windsor Castle in honour of the Royal Ascot races. And that same week, her romance with the Queen's second son began.


On March 19, 1986, Andrew and Sarah announced their intention to marry. The romantic prince proposed during a stay at Scotland's Floors Castle – reportedly the location of their first kiss – with a Burmese ruby ring, chosen specifically to match the flame tresses of his future wife.

The wedding

Almost five years to the day after the marriage of Andrew's brother Charles and Diana Spencer, the nation had another royal wedding to celebrate. On July 23, 1986, Andrew and Sarah became husband and wife in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey, four months after announcing their engagement.Thousands of people lined the route as Sarah made her way with her father from Clarence House in a glass carriage, arriving at the majestic church at 11.30. Inside, a congregation of almost 2000 guests – including Elton John, Nancy Reagan, Estee Lauder and Michael Caine – watched as the 26-year-old bride made her way up the blue-carpeted aisle to meet her groom.The 45-minute ceremony - conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie – was steeped in tradition, with the bride agreeing to obey her husband as the couple exchanged their vows – a clause omitted by her friend Diana during her 1981 marriage.Twenty-six-year-old Andrew, smartly dressed in his ceremonial naval attire, was supported by brother Prince Edward , and Prince Charles, who read a lesson during the service.Other attendants included four young bridesmaids, one of whom was Zara Philips , dressed in peach ballerina gowns with bows decorating the back and carrying wooden hoops adorned with flowers. The four young page boys, including the groom's four-year-old nephew Prince William, wore boater hats and sailor outfits.

The dress

Just as the prince created his wife's engagement ring with her in mind, Sarah's wedding dress was designed to showcase her love for Andrew. The embroidered ivory silk gown - by Lindka Cierach - was created from duchess satin with a scooped neck, padded shoulders and beading adorning the bodice.Her train reached 17-feet and was emblazoned with the letter 'A', as well as Sarah's personal coat of arms which featured a bumblebee, an anchor to represent the groom's naval career, and a rose. The veil was attached using a coronet of flowers, chosen to include her husband's favourite perfumed gardenias. At the end of the ceremony, the flowers were removed to reveal a diamond tiara lent to Sarah by her mother-in-law, the Queen.In her arms, Sarah carried an S-shaped bouquet created from gardenias, cream lilies, yellow roses, lilies of the valley and a sprig of myrtle – traditional in all British royal wedding bouquets.


The newly-betrothed couple left Westminster Abbey for Buckingham Palace in an open-top 1902 State Landau. A crowd of 100,000 wellwishers clamoured to see their first public kiss as man and wife on the balcony of the palace. Smiling broadly, the playful new Duke and Duchess of York pretended not to understand the call for their embrace before indulging the appreciative crowd.Andrew, Sarah and their guests sat down to enjoy a traditional wedding breakfast, including lamb and lobster. Their cake stood at six feet tall and was adorned with delicate pastel flowers.Later some 300 guests were invited to a party at Mayfair's 5 star Claridges hotel, before the royal couple left for their honeymoon in the Azores.After their marriage, the Duke and Duchess moved into Andrew's second-floor residence at Buckingham Palace, where Sarah had been living since the engagement. Two years after they tied the knot, the couple welcomed their first child, Princess Beatrice Elizabeth Mary of York at Portland Hospital on August 8. Then, on March 23, 1990, her younger sister Princess Eugenie Victoria Helena of York was born.But in January 1992 - six years after their lavish wedding, and two years after the arrival of their youngest child - Sarah and Andrew decided to separate. Sarah has since said she believes the marriage started to break down just one week after the Westminster ceremony because of her husband's naval duties.After four years of separation, the couple made the mutual and amicable decision to divorce. Their marriage officially came to an end on May 30, 1996.

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