Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie were rumoured to be on holiday with their parents Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew at the end of August, shortly after the Duke and Duchess of York made a hasty exit from Balmoral. Although nowadays, Sarah – affectionately known as Fergie – and Andrew seem to enjoy a happy post-divorce life, frequently taking trips with their daughters together, it was a different story in 1992.
The pair had separated in August of that year, and would go on to finally divorce in 1996.
Journalist Rosie Boycott, writing for the The Independent in 1996, explains how, at Christmas 1992, Fergie had been frozen out of the Royal Family due to a series of scandalous gaffes, most notably including her infamous “toe-sucking” front-page photographs.
Ms Boycott explained: “By Christmas, the Big Freeze had begun.
“Sarah found herself denied access to the big house at Sandringham.
“Determined to be close to the children, she elected to stay at the gate house.
“Cars were sent for Eugenie and Beatrice early in the morning.
“Andrew entertained his daughters, leaving his wife alone like a dog in quarantine.”
However, the Queen herself remained privately supportive of the Duchess, and secretly visited her on her own.
She wrote: “The Queen remained astonishingly tolerant.
“Despite the appalling publicity her daughter-in-law had brought on them all, she turned up in the afternoon for a few private seasonal whiskies.
“Everyone else in Sarah’s life might have been throwing her to the wolves, but her mother-in-law offered kindness and support – as she still does.”
Fergie told the author: “We talk to each other. I love her. I love her to bits.”
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However, Ms Boycott went on to relate Princess Beatrice and Prince Eugenie’s heartbreaking comment that Christmas, as told to her by Fergie at her Surrey home.
She wrote: “She is almost certainly the most candid person ever to have passed into (and out of) the House of Windsor.
“She reminisced about the nightmare Sandringham Christmas and the children enquiring: ‘Why is mummy not allowed in the big house any more?’
“She also talked of the Queen’s surprise visit, the festive drinks, the tears and cuddles and grandmotherly understanding.
“It was not surprising that her new drawing room had so many framed and inscribed photographs of the Queen, as well as Prince Andrew.”
Fergie herself, in her 1996 autobiography “My Story”, goes into her own reasons for the surprise 1992 separation.
She writes: “From early on that year, Andrew and I had been discussing a separation.
“Not because we’d stopped caring for one another, but because I had reached the end of my royal rope.
“For six years I had shouldered the demands of Palace life.
“I’d endured the constant scrutiny of the British press and the barely veiled hostility of the Royal Household, the courtiers who run the show.
“Gradually, relentlessly, they had beaten me down.
“They were killing me by inches. It was time to save my life.”
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