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Is Meghan Markle using Sarah Ferguson as an unlikely role model?

Meghan Markle has turned her hand to children’s book writing, penning a story called The Bench set to be released next month – and apparently there are more to come. 

Sources have claimed the Duchess of Sussex, 39, who is currently pregnant with her second child, is keen to branch out into books for adults too, depending on the success of her debut. 

In authoring a children’s book Meghan follows in the footsteps of a number of royals, perhaps most notably the Duchess of York – or Fergie, as Meghan fondly referred to her during her and Prince Harry‘s controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Most likely derived from her and Harry’s close friendship with Princess Eugenie, which has remained steadfast since the pair stepped down as senior royals, it seems the two Duchesses – who both married renowned ‘playboy princes’ – have forged an unlikely bond.

When Harry first started dating Meghan, and introduced her to his grandmother the Queen, it was Sarah who took her under her wing, teaching the former actress her signature deep curtsy. 

Now, like Fergie, Meghan has found herself forging a new career and identity outside of the Firm (while hanging onto her royal title), albeit as a result of very different circumstances. But there are striking parallels. 

Both women have poured their heart out to Oprah, laying bare their emotional struggles and inability to cope with media attention. They share a passion for charitable causes, made millions in the US, and neither are shy of a TV camera crew. 

Like Sarah, 61, whose money-spinning children’s series Budgie the Little Helicopter was made into a TV series, Meghan chose to use her royal title on the cover of her book, adopting the pen name ‘Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex’. And her recent reading of Duck! Rabbit! with son Archie would have been a perfect fit for Storytime with Fergie and Friends. Here FEMAIL reveals how the Duchess of York has become an unlikely role model for Meghan. 

When Harry first started dating Meghan, and introduced her to his grandmother the Queen, it was Sarah who took her under her wing, teaching the former actress her signature deep curtsy

When Harry first started dating Meghan, and introduced her to his grandmother the Queen, it was Sarah (left in June 2018) who took her under her wing, teaching the former actress (right in December 2018) her signature deep curtsy

MARRIED A ‘PLAYBOY PRINCE’ 

Before meeting his now ex-wife, Prince Andrew was renowned for his cavorting with models and actresses and earned himself the nicknames ‘Playboy prince’ and ‘Randy Andy’.

But it was flame-haired Sarah who tamed him after the pair – who knew each other during their childhoods – became reacquainted at Royal Ascot in 1985. They announced their engagement a year later following a whirlwind courtship, with Sarah assuming her husband’s new ducal status and joining him on official engagements including overseas visits. 

Although their marriage ended in divorce in May 1996, the Duke and Duchess of York remain close friends and even live together at Royal Lodge in Windsor.

Like his uncle, Prince Harry was also the ‘spare’ to the throne and enjoyed a string of romances with glamorous blondes throughout his twenties – until Meghan came along and swept him off his feet. Harry reportedly proposed after just months of dating and after their May 2019 wedding, the newly appointed Duke and Duchess of Sussex began carrying out their royal duties.

In December 2019, Sarah spoke out in support of Meghan and said she felt ‘desperately sorry’ for the scrutiny she and Harry faced, drawing parallels to her own experiences after marrying Andrew. While she did not offer any public advice, claiming it could be ‘taken out of context’, she told Vogue Arabia: ‘I have been in Meghan’s shoes, and I still am. There’s always a twist of negativity and it just gets so sad and tiring; it’s hard and mean. I abhor bullying and I feel desperately sorry for the pain they must be going through because I’ve been through it.’ 

Although their marriage in 1986 ended in divorce in May 1996, the Duke and Duchess of York remain close friends and even live together at Royal Lodge in Windsor

Although their marriage in 1986 ended in divorce in May 1996, the Duke and Duchess of York remain close friends and even live together at Royal Lodge in Windsor

Like his uncle, Prince Harry was also the 'spare' to the throne and enjoyed a string of romances with glamorous blondes throughout his twenties - until Meghan came along and swept him off his feet

Like his uncle, Prince Harry was also the ‘spare’ to the throne and enjoyed a string of romances with glamorous blondes throughout his twenties – until Meghan came along and swept him off his feet

TAUGHT MEGHAN HOW TO CURTSY

While the Sussexes made a string of scathing allegations about the royals during their interview with Oprah in March, Meghan spoke affectionately about Sarah – even using her nickname, Fergie, throughout. 

The Duchess claimed she was so naïve about the Royal Family ahead of meeting the Queen that she ‘didn’t even know how to curtsey’ and was shocked when Harry explained it was expected of her. She told Oprah they ‘practised’ outside Royal Lodge, recalling: ‘Fergie ran out and said, “Do you know how to curtsy?” Apparently I did a very deep curtsy, I don’t remember it.’

Sarah is renowned for her trademark deep curtsies to Her Majesty and always enthusiastically greets her former mother-in-law with an elaborate knee bend.

POURED HER HEART OUT TO OPRAH 

In the year she divorced Andrew, Sarah appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and returned three years later in 1999. During her first stint she was less than flattering about her life within the royal fold, telling the host: ‘It’s not a fairytale, it’s real life in there – they [the royals] think it’s real life in there.’

Asked by the host: ‘You’re sitting in the Palace and you felt a sense of hatred for yourself? That doesn’t compute in our Princess Cinderella Duchess mind?’ Sarah replied: ‘That is the fairytale, but then comes the realism that you didn’t marry the fairytale, you fell in love and you married a man, and then you’ve got to come to terms with the fairytale.’ 

Sarah took part in Oprah Winfrey's mini-series Finding Sarah, a reality show in which cameras followed the Duchess around in her every day life. In an emotional clip, a tearful Duchess discusses how the press 'turned on her', causing her 'self-sabotage to kick in'

Sarah took part in Oprah Winfrey’s mini-series Finding Sarah, a reality show in which cameras followed the Duchess around in her every day life. In an emotional clip, a tearful Duchess discusses how the press ‘turned on her’, causing her ‘self-sabotage to kick in’

When Oprah suggested to live a royal life means you ‘ultimately lose yourself’ to ‘play the game’, Sarah replied: ‘You get out there and you play by the rules.’ 

In 2010 she was interviewed for a special episode on the same show, entitled Oprah and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, in which she discussed the ‘cash for access’ scandal. The following year Sarah took part in Oprah Winfrey’s mini-series Finding Sarah, a reality show in which cameras followed the Duchess around in her every day life. In an emotional clip, a tearful Duchess discusses how the press ‘turned on her’, causing her ‘self-sabotage to kick in’. 

After courting Meghan for an interview since her wedding, Oprah finally got to quiz the Sussexes in March – and like Fergie, Meghan didn’t hold back, telling the chatshow host her life as a British royal was so lonely and isolating that at one stage she ‘didn’t want to be alive anymore’.

Having given Oprah a tour of her and Harry’s Montecito mansion’s garden, she went on to describe herself as the victim of an image-obsessed Buckingham Palace and an ‘outdated’ press which subjected her to a ‘character assassination’. The couple also claimed a senior royal had ‘concerns and conversations; about how dark their son Archie’s skin would be.

After courting Meghan for an interview since her wedding, Oprah finally got to quiz the Sussexes in March - and like Fergie, Meghan didn't hold back

After courting Meghan for an interview since her wedding, Oprah finally got to quiz the Sussexes in March – and like Fergie, Meghan didn’t hold back

A RESPECTED CHILDREN’S AUTHOR 

In the late Eighties, Sarah began publishing her successful children’s book series Budgie the Little Helicopter, which was made into an animated children’s television series in 1994.

She’s also author of the Little Red and Helping Hands series, as well as Ballerina Rosie and Tea for Ruby. Sarah has written two autobiographies and several lifestyle books while a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, and is gearing up to release her first Mills and Boon adult novel.

Having previously written a lifestyle blog – The Tig – and penned articles for publications including Elle and Vogue, Meghan is now branching out into books, starting with her children’s story The Bench. If she needs any advice, surely Sarah – who began her Storytime with Fergie and Friends YouTube channel during lockdown – is an ideal person to talk to.

In the late Eighties, Sarah began publishing her successful children's book series Budgie the Little Helicopter

The Duchess of Sussex said the book - which will sell for £12.99 ($18.99) - would explore the 'special bond between father and son' as 'seen through a mother's eyes'

In the late Eighties, Sarah began publishing her successful children’s book series Budgie the Little Helicopter (left). Yesterday it emerged Meghan has written her first children’s book

PASSION FOR CHARITABLE CAUSES 

Since her marriage and subsequent divorce to Prince Andrew, Sarah has remained engaged with a number of charities, many of which are focused on young people. She remains a patron of Teenage Cancer Trust and founded Children in Crisis, a children’s charity focused on education and grant making to international programmes, in 1993. The following year she launched her own charity, Chances for Children, in the US. 

On Children in Crisis’s 25th anniversary, Sarah said working with this charity ‘gave her a sense of perspective and purpose during tough times’. She merged her charity foundation with Street Child, an organisation run by Tom Dannatt in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, of which she has become a patron and her daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, are the ambassadors.

Last year Sarah launched her new charitable foundation called Sarah’s Trust, which has provided aid for NHS, care home and hospice staff by delivering more than 150,000 items, including food, masks, scrubs, and toiletries during the pandemic.

Meghan and Harry launched their own foundation, Archewell, last year - the core purpose of which is to 'uplift and unite communities - local and global, online and offline - one act of compassion at a time', according to its website (pictured promoting their podcast Archewell Audios)

Meghan and Harry launched their own foundation, Archewell, last year – the core purpose of which is to ‘uplift and unite communities – local and global, online and offline – one act of compassion at a time’, according to its website (pictured promoting their podcast Archewell Audios)

Although their Sussex Royal charity is now defunct, having stepped down as senior royals, Harry and Meghan remain committed to their causes, and have taken on several new ones – recently becoming Campaign Chairs of Vax Live, which ‘aims to inspire vaccine confidence worldwide and help get the COVID-19 vaccines to everyone, everywhere’.

They launched their own foundation, Archewell, last year – the core purpose of which is to ‘uplift and unite communities – local and global, online and offline – one act of compassion at a time’, according to its website.

REBUILT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ROYAL FAMILY

Despite being embroiled in her fair share of scandals over the years – notably being photographed having her toes sucked by another man while married to Andrew and caught on camera offering to take cash in exchange for access to the Duke of York – Fergie appears to have built bridges with the royals.

And it was her invite to a recent royal wedding which suggested she’s back in the fold – Harry and Meghan’s. According to royal biographer Christopher Andersen, ‘Harry knows all too well what it feels like to be branded as the black sheep of the Royal Family… Harry is far more compassionate than previous generations of royals, and he obviously believes Fergie deserves another chance.’ 

While Fergie is back on good terms, the royal rift between Harry and his brother Prince William remains. Will Meghan take a leaf out of Fergie’s book and let sleeping dogs lie?  


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