Sarah Ferguson Talks About Being Pitted Against Princess Diana

Ferguson told People magazine that she and the Princess of Wales “were positioned as saint and sinner.”

Sarah Ferguson opened up this week about being pitted against Princess Diana in the tabloids decades ago, and recalled the advice her late friend used to give her.

“In the ’80s, it was Diana looking beautiful, and there was fat, frumpy Fergie,” the Duchess of York told People for the magazine’s cover issue, published Friday. The outlet noted that Ferguson, nicknamed “Fergie,” was sometimes called the “Duchess of Pork” by the tabloids.

“We were just there for people to make a lot of money. At the time, we both didn’t realize that,” Ferguson said, adding that she and the Princess of Wales “were positioned as saint and sinner.”

“Diana and I both had our own mental health issues, and she and I used to talk,” the duchess continued. “She said, ‘Fergie, remember one thing: When you’re at the top of the pedestal, it’s so easy to fall off. And you’re at the bottom. You just climb up.’”

“And the most important thing was to remain robust together, and we did, no matter what anyone wrote,” she added.

The Duchess of York and the Princess of Wales during a holiday at the ski resort of Klosters, Switzerland, on March 9, 1988.
The Duchess of York and the Princess of Wales during a holiday at the ski resort of Klosters, Switzerland, on March 9, 1988.
Princess Diana Archive via Getty Images

Despite being best friends since their teenage years, the Duchess of York and Princess Diana had a famous falling out and weren’t speaking before Diana’s death on Aug. 31, 1997.

“Because we were like siblings — actually, we were fourth cousins and our mothers, who went to school together, were also best friends — we rowed,” Ferguson told Harper’s Bazaar in 2007.

“And the saddest thing, at the end, we hadn’t spoken for a year, though I never knew the reason except that once Diana got something in her head ... ” she said, trailing off. It’s rumored that their friendship ended after Fergie revealed she’d gotten a plantar wart from wearing Diana’s old heels.

“I tried, wrote letters, thinking whatever happened didn’t matter, let’s sort it out,” Fergie continued. “And I knew she’d come back. In fact, the day before she died, she rang a friend of mine and said, ‘Where’s that Red? I want to talk to her.’”

At times, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton’s tabloid coverage has been compared to what Diana and Fergie went through.

Though, as the Duchess of Sussex herself has said, there is a major difference between the racist coverage she’s faced and the type of abuse that the Duchess of Cambridge has received in the past.

The Cambridges and Sussexes arrive at a Christmas Day service at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene on Dec. 25, 2018, in King's Lynn, England.
The Cambridges and Sussexes arrive at a Christmas Day service at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene on Dec. 25, 2018, in King's Lynn, England.
Stephen Pond via Getty Images

“Kate was called ‘Waity Katy’ waiting to marry William. While I imagine that was really hard ― and I do, I can’t picture what that felt like ― this is not the same,” Meghan told Oprah Winfrey back in March. “And if a member of his family will comfortably say we’ve all had to deal with things that are rude ― rude and racist are not the same.”

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