Sarah Ferguson says royals ‘can’t have it both ways’ if they choose to leave

Exclusive: The Duchess of York speaks out amid fallout from Prince Harry’s memoir ‘Spare’

Kate Ng
Thursday 06 April 2023 11:41 BST
Sarah Ferguson reveals advice she received from the Queen before her death

The Duchess of York has said that members of the royal family who choose to leave the fold “can’t sit on the fence” and must decide whether they want to be “in or out”.

Her comments come amid ongoing tensions between the royal family and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have repeatedly aired their grievances over Buckingham Palace’s relationship with the tabloid press since they stepped down as senior royals in 2020.

Sarah Ferguson, who was married to the Duke of York until their separation in 1992 and divorce four years later, did not refer directly to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle while talking about her own departure from the royal family.

In a new interview with The Independent, she reflected on her career as an author, having spent 12 years in the US writing children’s books and starring in several reality television shows.

The 63-year-old duchess said: “Well, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t sit on the fence and keep one foot in and one foot out. You’re either in or out.

“But then don’t cry about not being invited to weddings. You chose to leave, now go and live it – and be it.”

Ferguson, who still shares the Royal Lodge in Windsor with her ex-husband Prince Andrew, travels frequently between the US and the UK. She is currently promoting her new romance novel, A Most Intriguing Lady.

Like the duchess, Harry and Meghan dropped their HRH titles after they stepped back from royal duties and no longer receive public funds.

In their announcement in January 2020, the Sussexes said: “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”


Later, they moved to the US and currently reside in Montecito, California, with their two children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

In the three years since Harry and Meghan’s departure from the royal family, they have released a number of revelations – including accusing the royals of racism and of “leaking” and “planting” negative stories about Meghan in the press.

Earlier this year, Harry released his best-selling memoir Spare. In it, he claimed that his older brother the Prince of Wales physically attacked him and that, after he was born, his father told Diana, Princess of Wales, that now she had given him an heir and a spare, “his work was done”.

Questions around Harry and Meghan’s attendance at King Charles III and the Queen Consort’s coronation are still hanging in the air. The couple have indicated that they have received “email correspondence” over the ceremony on 6 May, but have yet to disclose their decision about whether or not to attend.

Harry arrived in the UK last Monday (27 March) in a surprise visit to attend a hearing in his claim against Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers over allegations of unlawful information-gathering.

It was reported that he stayed at Frogmore Cottage during the visit, which he is also understood to have used to sort out his and Meghan’s belongings in the property. They were asked by the King to vacate it last month and are planning to ship their items to Montecito.

Elsewhere in her interview, Ferguson said she felt “the pressures of being in the public eye” when she married Andrew, adding: “I think social media probably makes it even more difficult today”.

Referring to Harry, she added: “I don’t believe in judging anyone, and I would just ask for a little more kindness.”

Read the full interview here.

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