Saving Sarah: Advice For a Disgraced Duchess

Oh Fergie, Fergie, Fergie... enough with the weeping and lamenting, grow up already!

By , Columnist

If any further proof is required that the Duke of Edinburgh did not order the ‘murder’ of Princess Diana (copyright Mohamed al Fayed) it is the fact that Fergie is still walking around.

And not just walking but talking too… plus a great deal of crying. Fortunately, the UK has been spared much of this, but I gather that the U.S. has suffered copious amounts of Fergie’s tears: absolute weepithons with her daughters Beatrice and Eugenie blubbering away, presumably in embarrassment.

The good folks of Australia have had a narrow escape. Last week Fergie stormed out of a television interview after a reporter tried to question her over a newspaper‘s footage of her discussing cash for access to Prince Andrew.

sarah2.jpgFergie’s tearful performances have become almost ritual public wailing acts whenever there is a book to promote/scandal to cover up. And the story never really changes. It is always a variation on the same theme: bad Mummy left home when she was twelve, and poor Fergie hasn’t quite found her self-esteem; Prince Andrew is marvellous/wonderful and would still be married to her if not for the bad ‘grey men’ at the Palace, plus of course, her need to earn money to settle debts caused by her lavish spending.

I have a folder containing quite a few press interviews and I really have to give her credit for spinning out the same old yarn so often. It is even more amazing that media organisations are willing to pay for the same reheated stuff.

But this summer, on Finding Sarah: From Royalty to the Real World, Fergie went over the top with the accusation that her late mother, Susie Barrantes, used to beat her, adding that Susie called a vein on Fergie’s forehead the 'sign of the devil' and would shout, 'I'm going to beat that devil out!' Fergie’s older sister, Jane, had rather different memories. Two months later, the Duchess, who was reportedly paid £200,000 by Oprah Winfrey for the series, claimed it was a little joke.

It will take more than a night on Oprah's couch to sort Fergie out. A glance through those old cuttings suggests that she still falls into the same financial traps, with the same exhibitionist solutions, and talks the same self-regarding psychobabble as she did years ago.


Take Hello magazine: in July 1996 she said wanted to become the ‘conductor of my own orchestra’. She told OK in May 1997: “I still have those deep, dark black places where I worry who I’m going to let down this time”. In March 2001, she told the ‘Sunday Telegraph’: “Even to this day I walk into a room and think I’m ugly, fat and my hair is silly, red and curly”.

There were extraordinary fashion spreads too. In February 2003 she appeared in Tatler wearing a gold satin doublet with ruffled collar and slatherings of yellow eyeshadow.

Recently, she returned to Hello - the setting of so many of her soul-searching interviews. This time she posed outside her late mother’s Argentinian ranch, wearing heavy make-up and proclaiming: “I’m getting better and I am healing. It’s time for me to get on with my life.”

You don’t say! At 51 it’s later than you think, Fergie, but there could be a way to save yourself. Some years back you wrote a rather good book, admittedly with a co-author. It was called Victoria and Albert: Life at Osborne House and it is still the standard work on that royal residence. It’s a hundred times better than those silly Budgie/ Little Red/Ruby stories and the self-help manuals you’ve been churning out, not to mention the two depressing autobiographies.

You probably won’t be allowed back into the Royal Archives (the cash for access scandal didn’t go down too well at the Palace, I’m afraid) but there must be hundreds of mansions around the world all waiting to have their histories turned into coffee table books by an ex-Duchess.

Go on, Fergie, rescue your reputation and leave off the daft interviews. Do some genuine research and proper writing and you’ll never have to weep again in public. Just think what you’d save on Kleenex!

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Margaret Holder has been writing about the Royal Family in newspapers and magazines for thirty years. She also broadcasts frequently on the BBC, both radio and television. She reckons she has now written more royal documentaries than anyone else in the world. Some are still being shown on channels in…

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