The Duchess of York has reflected on her childhood and the language used by her parents growing up.
In a new interview, Sarah Ferguson opened up about how her mother, Susan Barrantes, was “a child herself” when she started her family with Ronald Ferguson.
The duchess, 63, recalled how her father “used to call me a sheep’s a***” and her mother would “hit me” if she refused to eat semolina.
Speaking to The Times, Ferguson said: “My mother was a beautiful woman but she was a child herself. She didn’t know how to be a mummy.
“We would never dream now of using the language my parents used on us as children. Dad used to call me a sheep’s a***. If I refused to eat my semolina, Mum would hit me and say she needed to beat the devil out of me.”
Ferguson, who was married to the Duke of York from 1986 to 1996, has previously spoken about her mother, who left her family when Ferguson was 14 to elope with a professional polo player in Argentina.
In her new interview, published on Saturday (8 April), the duchess and author said Susan returned to England for her sister, Jane Ferguson’s wedding.
“Then my sister left to start her new married life in Australia and I lost them both on the same day,” she recalled.
“I never truly understood why my mother left me and it has taken me a long time to deal with my low self-esteem. When I was little, I used to leave notes in her dressing room saying, ‘Mummy, please don’t die in a car crash’. And of course she did die in a car crash.”
Susan died at the age of 61 after her car collided head-on with a van in Argentina in 1998.
In 2021, Ferguson spoke of how the late Queen Elizabeth was “more of a mother” to her than her own.
She described her former mother-in-law as a “mentor” who “never faltered” when giving her support and advice.
During an appearance on the Tea with Twiggy podcast, Ferguson said: “Because I went through so much pain losing Mum, I lost my way and I became deeply, deeply insecure. I kept asking everybody for advice. And I never trusted my own judgement of myself.
“I have got my lovely ex-husband [Prince] Andrew – he always believes in me and always did believe in me. But my greatest mentor – and I know this sounds so weird to say it – and person who believes in me is the Queen and has never faltered.”
Last week, the duchess opened up about suffering from binge-eating disorders as a child when her parents divorced in an interview with The Independent.
She said the media’s scrutiny on her weight made things worse and she would “self-sabotage”. However, Ferguson said she found solace in writing her novels. Her latest novel, A Most Intriguing Lady, is on sale now.
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