It looks low-key enough, but this picture of the Queen and Sarah chatting at a polo match is the first of them in public since 1991, marking official acknowledgment of improved relations. Prince Andrew and his daughter Beatrice sit between them
Click on the photos for gallery

An affectionate kiss from her former brother-in-law Prince Charles at a talk in London recently also points up a welcome back into the royal fold for the Duchess
Photo: PA

15 JUNE 2004

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There's been a distinct warming of relations between Sarah Ferguson and her royal in-laws recently, symbolised by the appearance of the first public photo of Sarah and Queen Elizabeth together since 1991.

The picture was taken when Sarah was invited to sit in the royal box with the Queen and Prince Andrew to see a polo match over the weekend. Sarah attended with her teenage daughter Beatrice.

Andrew and Sarah have always been a remarkable example of friendly divorces, going on holiday with their daughters together and even sharing a home for some time. The Duchess has also enjoyed amicable relations with the Queen, but until now they have not been photographed together in public since a 1991 visit to Royal Ascot.

Despite the debt-ridden aftermath of her divorce from Prince Andrew in 1996, her subsequent exclusion from royal family events such as Christmas celebrations - where her two little girls joined their father and other senior royals without her on Christmas Day - soon raised sympathy among the general public.

Now it seems that there is official acknowledgment of the warmer relationship: as well as the polo match photo, Sarah has recently been seen receiving a kiss from her former brother-in-law Prince Charles, and an affectionate embrace from Princess Anne's daughter Zara Philips.

It's said that the royal family is finally recognising Sarah's achievements in paying off her debts and forging an independent life for herself and her two daughters.