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Notes From a Royal Pain

November 20, 1996|LYNELL GEORGE

Sarah Ferguson, the fiery, straight-speaking redhead who turned Prince Andrew's head, emerged, it seemed, out of nowhere. And almost as quickly as she surfaced, she tumbled from private and public grace.

In her new book, "My Story: Sarah the Duchess of York" with Jeff Coplon (Simon & Schuster), she recounts her princessly existence.

On her suitability:

"I had been tagged 'unsuitable' for royal life, and the charge stuck. I was frozen out, and not just in the palace. . . . A stronger person might have lashed back in righteous anger. . . . Deep down I knew that the charge was fair; I was unsuitable, always had been. Just seven years before, I had been an anonymous working girl, hard-pressed to pay her rent, dodging summonses for traffic tickets. And then, with fictional suddenness, I was catapulted up into royalty."

On the honeymoon:

"It was the first night of our honeymoon when it fully dawned on me that ours would never be a normal marriage. . . . We were having dinner on the royal yacht. . . . That first dinner was our most intimate. From then on Andrew invited the ship's officers to join us; that is what the Queen did, that is what he thought was expected."

On the marriage:

"I would sit in my dressing room with those stately oils of Queen Victoria staring down at me and . . . I would cry softly, resignedly. There were no hysterics. I would just cry my quiet rivers. . . . [Andrew's] absences gradually destroyed me. I was a romantic, sensual newlywed who loved her man--he was mine and I was so happy. And when he left [for work] I lost not just my lover but also my mentor and staunchest ally on the crucial matter of being royal."

On her fall:

"When I first joined the cast, the Princess of Wales happened to be out of favor. The press needed a new angel. And so was born, as Lady Colin Campbell put it, 'Fergie the Real Person.' . . . By late 1987, however, Diana had been restored to golden-girl status. Her return opened a vacancy on Fleet Street for 'the bad Royal.' . . . And who better to play the heavy than an overweight ex-commoner with a strong (now overbearing) personality and a candid (now tactless) way of talking?"

On Daddy-in-Law:

"I was sitting next to Prince Philip, of course, and felt totally tongue-tied. . . . I asked him if he had driven his horses that day--an imbecilic question that deserved the retort it fetched, since Philip drove his horses most every day."

On her wardrobe:

"My wardrobe, nonexistent a year earlier, had mushroomed exponentially, thanks to a monthly clothing allowance from the Queen. . . . I would ultimately collect 15 fluffy, formal ball gowns . . . another 25 long dresses for slightly less formal occasions, 40 cocktail dresses, 150 day suits, 60 hats and 200 pairs of shoes."

On the new Sarah:

"I am easier with myself these days, more forgiving, more content. I have learned, for example, that there is life after cellulite. When I'm in the company of a model, I don't wish to have her figure. I've got my own, and it's perfectly nice--it's me, after all. I still punish the exercise bike for 30 extra minutes, but I also allow myself an occasional bowl of pasta. I still fantasize about running along the beach in a black bikini (partner included, naturally), but it's no longer the be-all-end-all. I don't want to be the kindest and prettiest and cleverest anymore. I just want to be Sarah--and for those who love me that will be enough."

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