SARAH FERGUSON and Prince Andrew had to keep their engagement top secret after the Duke of York went down on one knee in February 1986, a royal biographer writes.
Sarah Ferguson – affectionately known as Fergie – and Prince Andrew married in a spectacular royal wedding in 1986. Although the parents of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie would go on to divorce in 1996 after their separation in 1992, the Duke and Duchess of York have always remained close. Royal fans are even hoping that rumours circulating around the couple’s rekindled royal romance may even end in another royal wedding, although Andrew and Fergie themselves have refused to be drawn on the issue.
Royal biographer Ingrid Seward, in her 1991 book “Sarah: HRH The Duchess of York” delves into the way the pair got engaged the first time around.
In February 1986, Andrew took Sarah on a Scottish getaway to Floors Castle where he proposed.
However not even their hosts, the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe, were allowed to know the top-secret news.
Ms Seward writes: “The Castle was swathed in wintry Gothic mist and as bedtime approached the snow started to fall outside.
“Just before midnight Andrew went down on both knees and asked Sarah Ferguson to be his wife.
“Sarah was caught off-guard and, to cover her confusion, tried to make light of it.
“She told the prince: ‘If you wake up tomorrow morning, you can tell me it’s all a huge joke’.”
Ms Seward continues: “But she allowed him to fill her glass with champagne and they drank a toast to their future.
“In the morning Andrew repeated his proposal.
“But although Andrew had asked and Sarah had said yes, they were not yet in a position to announce their engagement.
“They did not even tell their host and hostess.
“By law Andrew could tell no-one until he had officially asked permission of the Queen and obtained her consent to marry – and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were not due back from their tour of Australia and New Zealand for another three weeks.”
The Duke of York met with the Queen as soon as she arrived at Windsor March 15, before Sarah was allowed to tell her family the happy news.
Andrew said of his mother: “She was overjoyed.”
Ms Seward writes: “The Queen liked Sarah. They got along well.
“Their mutual enjoyment of country pursuits, their love of dogs and horses, provided them with a common ground.”
She adds: “The Queen Mother liked her at once. She thought Sarah would be ideal for Andrew.”