Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York, is featured on a special digital cover of Town & Country. She sits down with journalist Andrew Goldman to share how she discovered that the best way to find a happy ending is to write it yourself. The Duchess reflects on the media scrutiny she has received over the years, at a time when many are reckoning with the way tabloids have treated celebrities and royal figures, and how she has forgiven: “One day I got up and thought, Mandela forgave his persecutors; surely I can forgive and move forward.”
On withstanding scrutiny in the press: “When they say you’re the ‘Duchess of Pork’ or you’re ‘frumpy Fergie,’ you start believing it… [defamation special Paul Tweed recently told her] ‘I think you probably are the woman in the world who has had more bad front pages than any other,’… I took it as a huge compliment. I’m really proud that I’m still here.”
On how she has grown over the years: “It’s a very good moment, because I’m free. She’s [Fergie] still with me, that person who thinks she’s fat, ugly, and disgusting, and she still has to have her hair done to talk to you, but she’s now not so vocal. The truth is, I am 61 years old and I’m free of the self-sabotaging Sarah.”
On comparisons to Princess Diana: “It was always that Diana was portrayed as the saint and I was portrayed as the sinner. Bad Fergie sold an awful lot of papers.”
On not being invited to William and Kate’s wedding in 2011: “I didn’t think I was probably worthy to go to their wedding. I took myself to Thailand, actually, to be far away from it so that I could try and heal.”
On Prince William and Prince Harry: “I believe that Diana would be so proud of her boys…and she’d be so proud of her grandchildren.”
On her interest in The Crown, in which she has barely been portrayed: “Hello?” she jokes. “Where is Fergie?” She even wrote to Andy Harries, an executive producer of The Crown, offering input. “I said to him, ‘Why can’t I help my character?’” Her offer was declined.
On Lady Margaret, the main character in her upcoming book Her Heart for a Compass, and how writing was a therapeutic process for her: While Margaret isn’t Ferguson per se, the duchess says, “I have thrown my voice into each line and I’m very proud” … Indeed, Margaret’s tale of independence might be interpreted as Ferguson’s fantasy of an independent road not taken. “Lady Margaret helped me become exactly the person who is talking to you right now.”
A version of this story appears in the September 2021 issue of Town & Country (on stands August 31st).
[Photo Credit: Misan Harriman/Town & Country Magazine]