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Sarah Ferguson

Thoughtfulness is my middle name

Sarah, Duchess of York, with her daughters, Eugenie and Beatrice. Indigo/Getty Images

“To say Sarah Ferguson is unlike a typical interviewee is to say a monsoon is unlike an April shower,” says Henry Mance in the FT. The Duchess of York arrives for lunch more prepared than I am. “I’ve read every single one of your interviews,” she says. How thoughtful. “Thoughtfulness is my middle name.”

She’s promoting Her Heart for a Compass, her Mills & Boon romance novel about a red-haired aristocrat who is ostracised by the nobility and harried by the press. Sounds familiar. After she divorced Prince Andrew in 1996, Ferguson was tabloid fodder. Still, it could have been worse. “I’m lucky I wasn’t locked up.” If she’d been born earlier, she would have been: “I would have been hysterical, and mad, and a witch and burnt.” Normally you don’t divorce a royal and keep your head. “Anne Boleyn didn’t! I’m the only divorced woman who is still alive.”

Thankfully, she and Andrew are the “happiest divorced couple in the world”. They even live together at his official residence, Royal Lodge. “I have my rooms. He’s that side and I’m this side.” Individual sides? “Have you seen Royal Lodge? It’s quite big…”

Individual “sides” aside, she insists her life isn’t glamorous. “You’ve just got to get on with it. I suppose that’s who I am, Henry. It’s not a pony club, it’s not hearty, I’m not a Sloane Ranger, I just am me.” Can she go to the supermarket? “Yes.” Does she go to the supermarket? “I could do.” So she has a cook? “I don’t cook, shan’t cook, won’t cook.”

Did she think Andrew’s Newsnight interview was a good idea? “Drop it, Henry, drop it.” Before he goes, Mance notices the smoking slippers she’s wearing, which are embroidered with “Never Explain” and “Never Complain”.

❤️ 🧭 👻 I wonder how much of this bodice-ripper Fergie actually wrote, says Craig Brown in The Mail on Sunday. “In tiny type on an inner page are the words ‘With Marguerite Kaye’.” A little investigation reveals that Kaye is a veteran Mills & Boon author who has written 55 novels and knocks out 8,000 words a day – “the equivalent of War and Peace every 10 weeks or so.” In her acknowledgements, Fergie thanks Kaye for being “the mentor who guided me along the peregrinations of this literary journey”. Well, says Brown, “as the word ‘peregrination’ means a journey, that sentence doesn’t make much sense, but, then again, that’s probably why she needed a mentor”.