Personality Spotlight Sarah Ferguson: Prince Andrew's fiancee

Sarah Ferguson, the bride-to-be of Britain's Prince Andrew, is a product of London's upper-crust society who describes herself as a 'night owl who enjoys a hoot.'

Although born a commoner, she is a direct descendant of King Charles II by a mistress and grew up in the English countryside on her father's $3 million estate, cushioned by the wealth and privileges of the country's upper class.


Her father, Maj. Ronald Ferguson, is a first cousin of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, who is the widow of Queen Elizabeth II's uncle. Ferguson is now retired from his regiment and holds the post of Prince Charles' polo manager.

Thanks to her father's ties with the royal family, Sarah was a childhood playmate of Andrew at Windsor Castle.

Friends say she spent her adolescence convinced that no man would be interested in her because she was pudgy and her face was splashed with freckles.


After spending time at two local boarding schools, Sarah began to make the break to life on her own in the fast lane ofLondon's upper-crust society.

She attended a secretarial school in London's fashionable South Kensington district and took a string of jobs at an apartment-letting agency, a Covent Garden art gallery and a sports public relations agency.

When the engagement was announced, she was working as a 'directrice' for BCK, a Geneva-based graphic arts company. She says she intends to keep the job after her marriage.

Sarah's co-workers say she spends a good deal of time on the telephone, and some described her as 'a little scatterbrained.'

'She was all for parties, late nights, getting in late and going to bed late,' one said.

An owl ornament on the hood of her blue BMW was a gift from Prince Andrew. The princess-to-be describes herself as a 'night owl who enjoys a hoot.'

Unlike her future sister-in-law, Princess Diana, Sarah, now 26, had serious romances before her engagement to Britain's most eligible bachelor. Only last year, she broke off a four-year romance with motor racing consultant Paddy McNally, who is 22 years her elder and has two teenage sons.

Royal watchers point to June 19, 1985, as the start of the romance between Sarah and Prince Andrew. That was when Sarah was the queen's house guest at Windsor Castle for the Ascot Horse Races.


But the queen is not the only one who appears to involved in helping the romance along. Diana has long been fond of Sarah and promoted the relationship.

Friends describe Sarah as a fun-loving, athletic person -- an accomplished horseback rider who also enjoys tennis, swimming and skiing.

Sarah and Diana share childhoods that saw their parents separate and divorce.

When Sarah was 14, her mother, Susan, left the family. Her parents divorced and her mother married Hector Barrantes, a world-class Argentine polo player from Buenos Aires.

A friend of the family told one British newspaper that her mother's departure seriously affected the young teenager. 'In one respect, of course, she has benefited,' the neighbor confided. 'That experience has given her a steely inner core which isn't apparent when you meet her.

'Deep down, she's tough.'

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