Sunday 11 December 2016

Windsors are impressively functional

Despite the global scrutiny, most of the royals' relationships are successful, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Published 01/09/2013 | 05:00

REHABILITATED: Sarah Ferguson's recent appearance at Balmoral led to rumours she and Prince Andrew will remarry
REHABILITATED: Sarah Ferguson's recent appearance at Balmoral led to rumours she and Prince Andrew will remarry
HAPPILY MARRIED: The Queen and Prince Philip's union has lasted 65 years

I say frankly and fearlessly that not only do I hope that the rumours that Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, might remarry Sarah Ferguson, better known as Fergie, are true, but I think that when it comes to marriage, the British royal family are impressively functional.

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Before I roll up my sleeves and get to the meat of this, here's the story so far on the Yorkies. The dashing naval lieutenant and the big-hearted, jolly-hockeysticks redhead who were delighted with each other when they married in 1986, drifted apart because his work kept him away 10 months of the year. Following their formal separation in 1992, the Duchess was cast out of the family after she appeared in tabloid photos having her toes sucked (or as she claimed later, her instep kissed) by her financial adviser and began a high-profile transatlantic career, during which her various indiscretions caused much wincing in Buckingham Palace.

Fergie never did anything mean-spirited. Indeed, her reluctance to blackmail her in-laws led her to accept a modest divorce settlement in 1996, but she could be foolish and vulgar, her brain was often disconnected from her mouth and in her desperate anxiety to pay off mammoth debts incurred through extravagance, she tried everything from reality TV to promoting Weight Watchers. Among the terrible books she inflicted on the world (having to read Tea for Ruby – in which a little girl tries to acquire enough good manners to have tea with the Queen – over and over to her grandchildren is driving a friend of mine to the edge of reason) was My Story: by Sarah, the Duchess of York.

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