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Exclusive: Sarah, Duchess of York reveals surprise life lesson she taught daughters Beatrice and Eugenie

The Duchess of York shared a wonderful story from her family life as she highlighted the work of the Tikva orphanage

Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
23 April 2024
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As HELLO!'s Parenting Editor, I was fortunate to join Sarah, Duchess of York on her recent visit to the Tikva orphanage in Bucharest, where we met Jewish orphans who have left the charity's children's home in the war-torn country of Ukraine for the safe haven of Romania.

During the emotional trip to shine a light on the inspirational work of Tikva, the Duchess opened up about her daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who are now mothers themselves.

Sarah, Duchess of York visits Ukrainian orphans in Bucharest

Wearing a bracelet bearing the names of her daughters, the royal mother told us how she instilled a sense of empathy and compassion in her girls from a young age. 

"They were born to learn about charity, they were born to give," she said.

Sarah shared an amazing story about how she taught Beatrice and Eugenie to think of others and appreciate their lives.

Beatrice and Eugenie are expected to be among the royals at the coronation© Getty
Sarah Ferguson with her daughters Beatrice and Eugenie

The Duchess told us: "[As children], if they were complaining and moaning, I'd put them outside in the freezing cold… then they would complain and moan, and I'd say, 'Well, imagine what it's like if you're in the middle of nowhere with no coat and never can get a coat'. They soon stopped moaning.

She added: “It was probably moaning at something like, 'Why are we watching Barbie and not watching something else', nothing serious."

The former wife of Prince Andrew also marked the girls’ 18th birthdays by taking them to a unit run by the Teenage Cancer Trust, explaining: "I wanted to teach them how to take the hand of a person who's dying."

Sarah Ferguson in blue blazer hugging woman from Tikva orphanage© Blake Ezra
The Duchess comforts one Ukrainian lady

During the royal's visit to the orphanage, she shared a tearful moment with an older woman, Zinaida Loshpa, who was waiting to greet Sarah in the welcoming crowd.

The Duchess recalled: "She said, 'I'm 77 years old and I don't have my home'. I said, 'But you came over here with your grandchildren and your daughters'…'Yes, yes, but I want to go home'. It was a very precious moment for me."

We asked whether, as a grandmother herself, Sarah could imagine this situation.

 "It's not really about just being a grandmother; it's about being human,” she replied. “I don't really need a label to feel that. I always have people asking me about my grandchildren. I say I'm really proud of my children because they're phenomenal mothers."

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