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Sarah Ferguson's life in photos – from growing up on a farm to her Duchess days

The Duchess of York has led a life like no other

Split image of Sarah Ferguson in a green overcoat and Sarah Ferguson in blue outfit walking with a pregnant Princess Diana
Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
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Sarah Ferguson has certainly led an incredibly unique life. The Duchess of York grew up in the countryside on a farm before she ended up becoming close friends with the late Princess Diana and marrying Prince Andrew.

The royal has also faced her own share of misfortune, including her acrimonious split from the Duke of York following the publication of tabloid photos and her own cancer diagnosis.

Join us as we chart the highs and lows of Fergie's life with the most memorable snaps of the Duchess of York.

A young Sarah and Jane Ferguson with Ronald Ferguson and four dogs© PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo


Sarah Ferguson was born on 15 October 1959 and grew up at Dummer Down House in Hampshire where she lived with her father, Major Ronald Ferguson, and sister Jane, who is two years older than Sarah. In this family photo with their dog, Ronald and his daughters enjoy a sunny day at their family home.

Princess Diana walking with Sarah Ferguson© Tim Graham

Rekindling an old friendship

Even before they joined the royal family, Sarah was friends with the late Diana Spencer, owing to their mothers knowing each other. When Diana was being romanced by the future King, Sarah reconnected with her old friend with the pair regularly seen in the crowd at polo events.

Prince Andrew driving a car with Sarah Ferguson in the back© Tom Wargacki

Date night

Sarah and Prince Andrew had been friends growing up, but the pair only began dating in 1985, after Princess Diana reportedly arranged for them to meet up while at Royal Ascot. In this photo, the couple are seen on their way to a performance of Frankenstein at the Royal Opera House.

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew smiling© Tom Stoddart Archive

Engagement joy

The pair's relationship went from strength to strength and on 19 March 1986, Buckingham Palace shared the joyous news that Sarah and Andrew were to wed!

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew waving from a balcony© Anwar Hussein

Wedding bells

Sarah and Andrew walked down the aisle on 23 July 1986 and with the wedding, Sarah officially became known as the Duchess of York. Diana and Sarah's closeness was on full show, as the late Princess of Wales's eldest son, Prince William, served as a pageboy for the nuptials.

Sarah looked beautiful in an ivory-silk wedding dress by British courtier Lindka Cierach, which had initials A and S intertwined and sewn in silver beads on the train.

Sarah Ferguson standing on the Buckingham Palace balcony with Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother© Tim Graham

Trooping the Colour

As a royal, Sarah was introduced to a wide range of traditions, and in this photo, the Duchess of York appeared alongside the late Princess Margaret and Queen Mother at Trooping the Colour.

Sarah Ferguson flying a helicopter© Tim Graham

Sarah the Fearless!

While the royals all have their own personal hobbies, Sarah must take the crown for the most daring one, with the Duchess having a love of flying. In 1987, she became the first royal woman to obtain a private pilot's licence.

Sarah Ferguson hold a baby Princess Beatrice at a christening© Tim Graham

Sarah's first child

In 1988, Sarah and Andrew became parents for the first time when they welcomed Princess Beatrice. Sarah quickly stepped into the role of doting mum and she looks so proud in this christening photo with her daughter.

Prince Andrew standing with Sarah Ferguson holding a baby Princess Eugenie© Tim Graham

Eugenie makes four

Sarah and Andrew welcomed their second daughter, Eugenie, two years later in 1990. The proud parents look so in love as Sarah cradles her baby girl in this adorable photo.

Sarah Ferguson in the back of a car© Tom Wargacki

Royal split

Sarah and Andrew's romance wasn't to last, and in 1992 the couple confirmed they had separated. Although the split was initially low-key, things got more acrimonious after tabloid photos were shared showing the Duchess having her toes sucked on holiday in the South of France. The publication of the images led to Sarah becoming estranged from the royal family, a relationship that wouldn't be fully rekindled for years.

Sarah Ferguson on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno© NBC

Life post royal family

Following her departure from the royal family, Sarah forged her own career, becoming a best-selling author. In 1999, the Duchess of York appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where she promoted Dieting with the Duchess.

Sarah Ferguson, Princess Eugenie, Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice on a mountain© UK Press

Blended family

Tensions between Sarah and Andrew soon eased over, and the former couple began spending time together again. In 2003, the pair took their daughters on a ski trip to Verbier, and look how grown-up the teenage princesses looked!

Princess Beatrice and Sarah and Jane Ferguson at the funeral of their father© Julian Herbert

Loss of a father

2003 was a difficult year for Sarah as she lost her father, Ronald Ferguson. Ronald was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996 followed by skin cancer. In 2002, he suffered from a heart attack, and a further heart attack in March 2003 killed him.

Sarah Ferguson holding a multi-coloured teapot© Charles Eshelman

Scandal-hit royal

Sarah founded her own lifestyle company in 2006, however, when it collapsed in 2009, she was left with debts amounting to £630,000. In 2010, she was caught by an undercover journalist offering access to her ex-husband for £500,000. In a later interview, the Duchess said she was "in the gutter" during the incident.

Sarah Ferguson in a navy-blue mini dress© Pool

Re-entering the royal fold

After being out in the wilderness for several years, and missing the wedding of Prince William and Princess Kate and Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones, Sarah was seen attending the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The event marked her re-introduction to the royal institution and she has been seen at other events including the state funeral of the late Queen and Sandringham at Christmas.

Princess Beatrice standing with Sarah Ferguson and Princess Eugenie© Dave Benett


Sarah is now a grandmother to three grandchildren. Eldest daughter Beatrice welcomed daughter Sienna in 2021, while Eugenie is a mum to sons August, born in 2021, and Ernest, who was born in 2023.

Sarah Ferguson in a grey jacket and mini skirt© Dave Benett

Cancer diagnosis

In June 2023, the Duchess was diagnosed with a form of breast cancer during a mammogram. The royal underwent a mastectomy and her prognosis was said to be "good". However, in January, the royal was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. Cancerous tissue was removed and is being analysed to see whether it has spread.

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