Inside Prince Andrew’s relationship with Fergie and place in The Firm

Sarah Ferguson calls Prince Andrew a 'good, kind man'


  • Younger years
  • Military service
  • Marriage
  • Children and divorce
  • Titles and controversy
  • Prince Andrew is not expected to take on a central role in King Charles’s Coronation this weekend after he stepped back from public royal duties in 2019. The Duke of York has kept a low profile since his Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis, but still maintains his titles, place in line to the throne and accompanied his mother in the last few months of her life.

    Here takes a look at Prince Andrew’s life – from his military career to meeting Sarah Ferguson, their subsequent divorce and the last few years away from the royal spotlight.

    Younger years

    Prince Andrew was born on February 19, 1960 as the third of the Queen and Prince Philip’s four children. His birth was celebrated as he was the first child born to a British reigning monarch since 1857.

    Attending Heatherdown School and then Gordonstoun, Andrew gained a reputation of being a joker and was nicknamed “the sniggerer” due to “his penchant for off-colour jokes, at which he laughed inordinately”.

    He was also renowned for pranks and mischievous behaviour according to biographer Nigel Cawthorne: “Somehow, Andrew was always forgiven — even when he sprinkled itching powder in his mother’s bed or climbed on to the roof of Buckingham Palace to turn the TV aerial so that the Queen wouldn’t be able to watch the racing at Sandown Park.”

    He left Gordonstoun with A-levels in English, history and Economics.

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    Military service

    Buckingham Palace announced in November 1978 that Prince Andrew would be joining the Royal Navy – something for which he undertook numerous tests and examinations.

    He enrolled at the Royal Naval College Flight between March and April 1979, before being accepted as a trainee helicopter pilot, signing on for 12 years from May 11, 1979.

    After training, passing out from Dartmouth and being awarded his wings, Andrew joined a carrier-based squadron, 820 Naval Air Squadron, serving aboard the aircraft carrier, HMS Invincible.

    Invincible was then called on for a major role in the Royal Navy task force during the Falklands War, and this made the British Government nervous – as there was a real possibility Andrew could be killed.

    The Queen however insisted he remain where he was, serving as a Sea King helicopter co-pilot. His service included anti-submarine warfare, casualty evacuation, anti-surface warfare, transport and search and air rescue.

    As the war ended, Andrew returned to Portsmouth with his crew on the Invincible, where he was met by the Queen and Prince Philip.

    Andrew went on to serve mostly in naval aviation until 2001, retiring at the rank of commander.

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    Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s relationship is a unique one, as despite being divorced they have remained incredibly close – even living together.

    Sarah and Andrew first met at Windsor Castle during Royal Ascot in 1985, when Diana, Princess of Wales invited Sarah to the event.

    Their relationship blossomed and Sarah was quickly welcomed by the Royal Family, sharing a love of horses with the Queen.

    Andrew and Sarah announced their engagement on March 19, 1986, with an engagement ring the prince designed to reflect Sarah’s hair – an oval-cut Burmese ruby.

    They were married on July 23, 1986, in front of 2000 guests at Westminster Abbey in London, with Sarah wearing an embroidered ivory silk wedding dress designed by Lindka Cierach.

    Her dress featured a staggering 17-foot train and the letters A and S sewn into the fabric in crystals, finishing the look with the York tiara.

    Children and divorce

    The newlyweds welcomed Princess Beatrice on August 8, 1988 and two years later had Princess Eugenie on March 23, 1990.

    The couple were apart for the majority of their marriage, with Andrew’s naval career requiring him to be away from home.

    This saw cracks appear in their relationship, with Sarah saying she’d spent her pregnancy with Princess Beatrice on her own.

    They legally separated in 1992, and their divorce was finalised in 1996, with Sarah saying all she wanted was to be on friendly terms with the Royal Family.

    Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar she said: “When I met with Her Majesty about it, she asked, ‘What do you require, Sarah?’ I said, ‘Your friendship,’ which I think amazed her because everyone said I would demand a big settlement.

    “But I wanted to be able to say, ‘Her Majesty is my friend’—not fight her nor have lawyers saying, ‘Look, she is greedy.’ I left my marriage knowing I’d have to work.”

    Sarah and Andrew remain close, with Sarah telling the Daily Mail: “Although we are not a couple, we really believe in each other. The Yorks are a united family. We’ve shown it.

    “You saw it at the wedding. My duty is to him. I am so proud of him. I stand by him and always will. The way we are is our fairytale.”

    Titles and controversy

    Upon his marriage, Andrew was granted the title the Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, and Baron Killyleagh.

    As a son of a monarch, he undertook a range of royal engagements, held several patronages and championed charities – however, he is now no longer undertaking public duties. He remains eighth in line to the throne, behind the Waleses and Sussexes.

    Since 2019 Prince Andrew has taken a step back from royal duties, over his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and following allegations of sexual abuse from Virginia Giuffre.

    Andrew has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Ms Giuffre settled out of court, something which didn’t represent an admission of liability on Andrew’s behalf.

    While Andrew remains a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, he was required to hand back his military affiliations and royal patronages.

    A statement from Buckingham Palace in February 2022 read: “With The Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen. The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

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