Royally bonded. Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson were both sisters-in-law and close friends, but their relationship was not without conflict.
In her 2011 memoir, Finding Sarah, Ferguson recalled the pair’s falling out before Diana died at 36 in a 1997 car crash in Paris. “It is true that our friendship was periodically strained. Sadly, at the end [of the princess’ life], we hadn’t spoken for a year, although I never knew the reason, except that once Diana got something in her head it stuck there for a while,” she wrote.
The twosome were fourth cousins and knew each other as adolescents, although their friendship truly started to blossom when they reconnected in 1980. At the time, Diana was 19 and Ferguson was 21. “Diana was one of the quickest wits I knew. Nobody made me laugh like she did,” the Duchess of York told Harper’s Bazaar in February 2007.
When Diana married King Charles III in 1981, Ferguson was in attendance. She became a confidant to the Princess of Wales as she navigated her transition into royal life. “She was two years younger than I, and I strove to support and protect her as I would a younger sister,” the duchess later wrote in her 1997 book, My Story.
The author and Diana went from friends to family members when Ferguson married Prince Andrew in 1986. Although the royal couple had known each other as children, they reconnected in 1985 when Queen Elizabeth II invited Ferguson to an event at Windsor Castle at Diana’s recommendation.
Prior to her wedding to Andrew, Ferguson became the first female member of the royal family to have a hen party. She later admitted that she and the partygoers, including Diana, got arrested for impersonating police officers at the shindig.
“We were arrested by parks police,” she explained during a March 2023 appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show. “We go in the back of the van, and [Diana] had put her engagement ring the other way, and I had put my engagement ring the other way. And we are sitting like this, [straight up].”
Ferguson recalled that the late princess was unperturbed by their run-in with the law. “She just looked around [the car] and saw smoky bacon-flavored crisps and started taking them and eating them,” the royal told host Kelly Clarkson. “And the policeman in the front goes, ‘You can’t do that.’ And then eventually they realized that it was Diana and me.”
After supporting each other on their respective wedding days, the friends would later lean on each other as both of their marriages fell apart.
“ was the year we first put words to the unspeakable idea that had been nudging us in the ribs for some time: that one or both of us might leave the royal family,” Ferguson wrote in My Story. “We burned the phone wires into the night, trading secrets and jokes that no-one else would understand.”
The writer and Andrew split in 1996 after 10 years of marriage. They share daughters Princess Beatrice, born in 1988, and Princess Eugenie, born in 1990. The prince stepped away from his senior duties in 2019 after being accused of sexually assaulting Virginia Giuffre when she was underage. Andrew denied any wrongdoing and reached a settlement with Giuffre for an undisclosed amount of money in February 2022, one month after being stripped of his royal titles.
Ferguson subtly hinted at her ex-husband’s scandal during a March 2023 interview with Glamour. “In 1986 I married a very good man — zip,” she said while making a zipped-lips motion with her hand.
Diana, for her part, finalized her divorce from Charles in 1996 after being separated for four years. The duo — whose marriage was rocked by the former Prince of Wales’ infidelity with his now-wife, Queen Consort Camilla — shared sons Prince William, born in 1982, and Prince Harry, born in 1984.
“I think Diana would be really proud of her sons and their wives and [her grandkids],” Ferguson said of her longtime friend during an August 2021 conversation with Entertainment Tonight.
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Keep scrolling for a look at Ferguson and Diana’s friendship over the years: