Sarah Ferguson has referred to Her Majesty, The Queen as everything from her "greatest mentor" to her "mother" and, most recently to mark her death, her "friend."
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Sarah was married to the Queen's son Prince Andrew from 1986 to 1996, and she had nothing but kind words to say about her former mother-in-law when she heard the sad news of her death. Next to a poignant picture showing the monarch posing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, she wrote: "I am heartbroken by the passing of Her Majesty the Queen. 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."
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"She has given her whole life selflessly to the people of the UK and the Commonwealth."
Sarah continued: "To me, she was the most incredible mother-in-law and friend. I will always be grateful to her for the generosity she showed me in remaining close to me even after my divorce. I will miss her more than words can express."
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Sarah paid tribute to the late monarch following her death
Following her heartfelt message, we've taken a look at the Duchess of York's relationship with Queen Elizabeth II…
Their first meeting wasn't exactly smooth-sailing, with Fergie accidentally tripping over one of the Queen's pet dogs in front of a room full of people, they reportedly bonded over their love of horses.
This bond grew over the years, and by Sarah's royal wedding, she was already sporting several heartfelt gifts from Her Majesty. She accessorised her bridal gown with the York tiara, a floral-shaped diamond scroll headpiece designed by Garrard. It was believed to be a present from her in-laws, and she recycled the tiara on several occasions – even five years after her divorce.
The Duchess of York wearing her sparkling jewellery gifted by Her Majesty
The Queen is also said to have given Sarah a sparkling wedding present in the form of a diamond demi-parure from Garrard. The stunning earrings, necklace and bracelet were often pictured on Fergie during public appearances, but they were stolen from her suitcase by a baggage handler while travelling between New York and London in 1995.
Luckily, she managed to get them back, as they likely hold even more value in memory of the late monarch.
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Sarah also put a lot of thought into her gift-giving, and it was gratefully received by the Queen as she proudly showed off her hand-crafted table lamp, made by Rosanna Lonsdale, following Prince Philip's death. In touching photographs released by Buckingham Palace, Sarah's gift sat front and centre on a table behind the sofa in the Queen's private sitting room.
The Daily Mail reported that Sarah commissioned the piece, whose motif is based on the sweet peas of Balmoral, as a Christmas present for the Queen.
Sarah and Andrew got married in 1986 and divorced in 1996
Despite reportedly having a strained relationship with her former father-in-law the Duke of Edinburgh, Sarah had a very good bond with Her Majesty. The Queen is said to have been impressed with the loyalty that Sarah showed Prince Andrew and the extended royal family, even following their divorce in 1996.
Sarah and Andrew continue to live in the same home, Royal Lodge in Windsor, and while she has shut down rumours about the couple rekindling their relationship, she spoke highly of their close relationship.
"July 23, 1986 was the happiest day of my life. Andrew is the best man I know. What he does for Britain is incredible; no one knows how hard he works for his country," Fergie told the Daily Mail in 2018,:
"My duty is to him. I am so proud of him. I stand by him and always will. The way we are is our fairy tale. Although we are not a couple, we really believe in each other. The Yorks are a united family. We've shown it. You saw it at the wedding.
"We stand up for each other, fight for each other. We're totally respectful of each other's position and thoughts and we listen to each other. Our children listen to us, too. And we sit round the table and have afternoon tea together. It's a very important part of our lives."
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Fergie has shared several kind words about her former mother-in-law
The royal's death tribute wasn't the first time Sarah has gushed about her former mother-in-law.
Sarah – who shares daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie with Andrew – previously said the monarch was not just a relation by marriage, but she also acted as "more of a mother" to her than anyone else and was her "greatest mentor."
"My greatest mentor and… person who believes in me is the Queen – and has never faltered," the 61-year-old said on the Tea with Twiggy podcast.
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"I absolutely admire the incredible way Her Majesty is so modern… and how flexible, and how understanding, and how forgiving and how generous."
Sarah also told model Twiggy: "I think to myself that honestly my mother-in-law has been more of a mother to me than my mother.
"I absolutely think there is no greater mentor because, from a little girl to now, the consistency of Her Majesty has been a great honour, it’s a huge honour – makes me want to cry."
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