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Sarah Ferguson's Invitation To The Queen's Funeral Means More Than We Originally Thought

Nicki Swift logo: MainLogoNicki Swift 9/22/2022 Treva Bowdoin
Sarah Ferguson wearing gold earrings © Dave J Hogan/Getty Images Sarah Ferguson wearing gold earrings

In the days leading up to Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, Prince Andrew's appearances at royal engagements generated a great deal of drama due to Virginia Giuffre's previous allegations that he sexually abused her when she was underage. As reported by BBC News, Giuffre filed a civil suit against the royal that was settled out of court. However, the disgraced Andrew wore his military garb when he stood vigil beside his mother's coffin, which was reportedly a compassionate allowance by his older brother King Charles III, per The Times.

Andrew's high level of visibility at the vigil and other funeral events had some royal watchers curious about whether his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, would be invited to reunite with the royal family to pay her respects to her former mother-in-law. Per the Daily Mail, the Duchess of York put on a show of solidarity with her ex-husband by joining him outside Windsor castle to look at the mass of flowers left by mourners.

Fergie and Andrew made their divorce official in 1996 but have continued to cohabitate in their Windsor estate, remaining on friendly terms despite Andrew's scandal. The couple's daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, were especially close with the queen, but while Fergie has maintained many strong ties to the royal family, it turns out that her presence at Her Majesty's funeral was in no way a sure thing. In fact, it was rather exceptional.

How The Royal Family Broke Protocol For Fergie At Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral

Sarah Ferguson wearing swallow brooch © Wpa Pool/Getty Images Sarah Ferguson wearing swallow brooch

In the modern age, it's not uncommon for royals to have ex-spouses, but once you're no longer married to a member of the royal family, you generally shouldn't expect to receive invites to family affairs like Queen Elizabeth II's funeral. As the Daily Mail noted, a number of ex-royals weren't in attendance at the event, including Captain Mark Phillips, Autumn Phillips, and Serena Snowdon. Royal expert Ingrid Seward explained their absence by saying, "Because it was a state funeral protocol had to be enforced. All the Heads of State, Commonwealth leaders and foreign Kings and Queens had priority over friends."

However, a special exception was seemingly made for Sarah Ferguson because she and Elizabeth had maintained such a close relationship after the duchess' divorce from Prince Andrew. At the funeral, Fergie appeared to pay tribute to her friend with her accessory choice: a silver brooch shaped like a swallow in flight. Per the Mirror, the bird is often associated with mourning and can also represent a journey that ends with a return to one's home.

Fergie mentioned the role the queen played in her own life's journey in a poignant Instagram post. "To me, she was the most incredible mother-in-law and friend. I will always be grateful to her for the generosity she showed me in remaining close to me even after my divorce," she wrote. "I will miss her more than words can express."

Queen Elizabeth II Entrusted Fergie With The Care Of Her Beloved Corgis

Queen's corgis and their handlers © Wpa Pool/Getty Images Queen's corgis and their handlers

According to People, Queen Elizabeth II's famous corgis will spend the rest of their days with Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York at Royal Lodge in Windsor. "It was the Duchess who found the puppies, which were gifted to Her Majesty by the Duke," a source revealed. The insider added that Fergie and the queen shared a love of dogs, and their canine companions brought the women even closer together when they met up to take their pets out for walks while they caught up.

Per Elle, two corgis that were given to Elizabeth by Prince Andrew, Muick and Sandy, put in an appearance at the queen's funeral procession. Two handlers watched over the dogs as they awaited her coffin in front of St. George's Chapel in Windsor. 

As for where Fergie was when she got to pay her final respects to Her Majesty, she had a second-row seat at the funeral, where she sat beside Princess Eugenie, according to Page Six. Princess Beatrice joined her father on the opposite side of the aisle, but Prince Andrew sat in the front row. Per the Royal Central Twitter page, Fergie was filmed walking home with Beatrice and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, after the committal service at St. George's Chapel.

Sarah Ferguson Had To Rebuild Her Relationship With Queen Elizabeth II

Sarah Ferguson frowning beside Queen Elizabeth © Georges De Keerle/Getty Images Sarah Ferguson frowning beside Queen Elizabeth

When Sarah Ferguson got photographed with her toes in another man's mouth while she was still married to Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II was greatly displeased, per the Express. So much so that she reportedly ordered Fergie to make a hasty exit from her Balmoral residence, which is where the unfortunate duchess happened to be when the photos were made public.

But Fergie stuck around after she and Andrew split, giving her ample time to work on mending her relationship with her ex-mother-in-law. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie possibly helped with this by being so beloved by their grandmother. "Whatever she's done, she's a good mother," Elizabeth reportedly said of Fergie. According to royal insiders, the queen even ordered courtiers to heed Fergie's demands when she was helping Princess Eugenie plan her wedding in 2018.

In 2021, Fergie spoke about just how close she and Elizabeth had become in an appearance on the "Tea with Twiggy" podcast. Said the duchess, "I think to myself that honestly, my mother-in-law has been more of a mother to me than my mother." She also listed some of the queen's traits that made her look up to her as a role model. "I admire the incredible way that Her Majesty is so modern," she gushed. "And how flexible, and how understanding, and how forgiving and how generous."

Read this next: The Most Controversial Royal Family Moments They Want You To Forget

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