Fergie may be stupid - but she's not alone

Here is a family that makes marriage so miserable that the Duchess of York and Diana would rather be Royal outcasts

Share
Related Topics
There has always been too much of Sarah Ferguson. I'm not talking about her weight but her presence. She was certainly too much for the Royal Family. Fergie we know eats too much, likes her sex too much, likes spending too much. In between all this conspicuous consumption she spins around the world from one ill-conceived interview to the next. No wonder she is thought to be out of control. While it is claimed that her excesses have brought the monarchy into disrepute it strikes me that it is actually the other way around. The Royals need Fergie to be out of control precisely so that they can remain in control.

The more extravagant and daft she is the more self-disciplined they look. How many times do we see lists of what Fergie has spent on psychics or jewellery so we can gasp in amazement at her profligacy, her lack of lustre, her sheer bloody stupidity? Here she comes again in Hello magazine miraculously freckle-free and chastened, whiter than white and willing to slag herself off to save us the bother. Her deranged form of self-flagellation is, of course, typically excessive. If she is to confess her sins she will confess to more sins than anyone else. If she is to be criticised by others then she will demolish herself first. All of this must be done on American chat shows and in magazines. Whatever she has discovered she has not learned to shut up or even to have a semblance of a private life.

Andrew, her ex-husband who she now defends as not being gay, by contrast does have a private life. No one is interested in how much of the Royal purse he spends each year on fripperies. No one asks him to justify his existence. No one even appears to know what this man does all day. Yet we know that in this ultimate soap it is the women, the outsiders married into this supremely dysfunctional family, who must flash their souls at us from time to time.

Diana and Fergie do not even have to resort to kiss-and-tell. The saga of the Royals is played out bizarrely through these women's very flesh. Fergie, Duchess of Pork, came to represent the excesses of this arcane system of rule. All talk was of a trimmer, slim-line monarchy, free of the parasitic minor Royals. When the tide turned against Fergie towards this "lean cuisine" version of heredity privilege, we also started worrying about Fergie's weight. Up and down she went, always struggling to control herself. The very idea that she can now represent Weight Watchers is heart- breaking. If anything, being a bit overweight is far less of a health risk than the yo-yo dieting that Fergie has been through.

Diana, meanwhile, played the patron saint of denial to Fergie's surplus sister. Diana, unlike Fergie, could have no food, no sex, no fun. No potatoes whatsoever. We worried about her weight too. She was thinner than ever. She suffered in silence and when her desires got out of control, she crammed herself with food that she would throw up again. She too knew how to punish herself. This cycle of binge and purge underwrites both these women's sad lives. Fergie is now trying to purge herself in public but she can never undo all that bingeing.

Yet while these two women were in their various states of hysteria, crying themselves to sleep at night, where was the protective arm of the Firm? Where were those who could guide these silly young women into maturity? Fergie has recently been describing her incarceration in Buckingham Palace while Andrew was doing the Navy lark. She saw him not more than 42 nights a year. When she and Andrew asked if they could live in Portland at the married officers' quarters they were refused. The Queen and Prince Philip told them they could not be together for reasons of security. There is no reason to believe that the Duchess is lying here. For all of her faults, she is known to be honest. Her account of her marriage failing not so much because she and Andrew did not love each other but because of the stress she was put under rings true and although the woman is still as clearly mixed-up as her metaphors, one cannot but have some sympathy towards her.

Indeed the Royals should think themselves lucky, for while Fergie is doing the rounds no one is going to look at them too closely. As long as the public can be persuaded to deride and hate this woman then they can maintain their dignified silence behind closed doors. Far from being a disgrace to them she is a convenient side-show that prevents more awkward questions being asked. It is easier to get personal about Fergie than political about the family she married into.

Yet every single glimpse we get of her Royal in-laws reveals them in a harsher light. These are cold, cold people whose sense of duty overrode all human feeling and clouded their relationships with their own children. Their lifestyle, which they seek to preserve at all costs - the ruined lives of two of their sons' wives appear as a minor inconvenience - appears less and less to belong to the twentieth century.

It isn't simply that they have lost their moral authority as the most powerful family in the land because of a spot of martial troubles, rather that many aspects of their family life are deeply troubling and certainly out of step with the average family lives of their subjects. Most people will have relatives who are separated or divorced, most people are fairly liberal about these matters. Here, however, is a family that makes marriage so miserable that the likes of Fergie and Di would rather pay the price of being Royal outcasts than stay.

Both these women, hardly sexual revolutionaries, demanded modern marriages; that is they thought they might spend some time with their husbands. Both were denied this and half-destroyed in the process as the monarchy closed ranks around them, unable to cope with such an everyday demand.

If we are to believe that this institution can modernise and reform itself from the inside out while we sit and gawp, we are about as gullible as Fergie was when she revealed all to Madame Vasso. However, while Fergie begs forgiveness in her crazed, knockabout style, the Firm does no such thing. It merely carries on up the palace, divinely assured that it never has to apologise to any of us, ever.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yarl's Wood in Bedfordshire, Britain’s largest Immigration Removal Centre  

Thanks to Channel 4 we now see just how appallingly Yarl’s Wood detention centre shames Britain

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
 

If I were Prime Minister: I’d ensure ministers took mental health in the armed forces as seriously as they take physical wounds

James Jones
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003