July 16, 2001 -- Sarah, Duchess of York, says she was overwhelmed by depression and even had a "breakdown" after her marriage to Prince Andrew fell apart.
"I had out-of-control debts, an out-of-control lifestyle that I couldn't keep up anymore. I'd now ruined my marriage," the duchess, known as Fergie, says in the August issue of Rosie magazine.
Asked by interviewer Rosie O'Donnell whether she had ever been clinically depressed, the duchess responded, "Probably, and I had a breakdown too."
Blames Father-in-Law Philip
Flame-haired Sarah Ferguson married Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1986. Life among royalty proved difficult from the start. She says a promise that she could live with her husband, a naval officer, wherever he was stationed was soon broken.
She blames her father-in-law, Prince Philip, for the long periods of separation she had to endure.
"He's very frightening — the Duke of Edinburgh," the duchess says.
For security reasons, the duke ordered her to stay in London while her husband was stationed elsewhere, she says. The duchess says she spent eight months of her first pregnancy away from her husband.
Ballooning Weight, Ballooning Debt
This is when she started eating. "I ate," Sarah says, "and that was my friend."
The duchess and Prince Andrew had two children, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, but they were still often separated. Fergie was publicly linked with an American, Steve Wyatt, and later became involved with her financial adviser, John Bryan. In 1992, a tabloid published pictures of the duchess, topless, having her toe sucked by Bryan.
Sarah and Andrew divorced in May 1996. Although they have remained on friendly terms, the duchess' wild spending habits left her struggling with a mountain of debt.
Ironically, her soaring weight would provide the answer to those debts.
The duchess became a spokeswoman for the diet plan Weight Watchers — a natural assignment for a woman who had been fighting the flab in public throughout her royal career.
The income from this gig, in addition to the popularity of her children's books recounting the exploits of Budgie the Helicopter, pulled Fergie back from the brink of bankruptcy.