Duchess of York says next generation of royals can learn from her mistakes as they navigate social media pitfalls

Gareth Davies
Fergie (pictured) says Meghan, Kate and her daughters can learn from her mistakes as they navigate social media pitfalls - REX

The Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson believes the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex and her own daughters can survive royal scrutiny in the age of social media by learning from mistakes she made. 

From reality shows to affairs and money trouble, the duchess' royal faux pas have been laid bare over the years. 

During an interview on ITV's Good Morning Britain, it was suggested she and close friend Princess Diana of Wales were the monarchy's "guinea pigs", and that the next generation would go through the same experiences but with the added pressure of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

But the duchess, affectionately known as Fergie, said Princess Eugenie and Beatrice as well as the Duchess of Cambridge and Sussex were better than her to deal with life in the spotlight.

She told the programme: "I often say to my girls, I've been there and made the mistakes so they know what not to do, it's really cool, actually. 

"All I can say to anyone, including my girls, is be who you are.

"They're going to write things, they're going to say things. They will. And 50 per cent of people like you, 50 per cent don't.

"Do what you feel with the integrity of kindness."

Among the tips she passed on was to remember the names of people who open doors for them and the people who cook their food. 

The Duchess of York's marriage to Prince Andrew ended in January 1992, but seven months later photographs appeared on the front page of the Daily Mirror of her sunbathing topless with American John Bryan, who could be seen kissing her feet. 

The Queen was said to be furious. The Duchess was at Balmoral with the Royal Family when the news broke, and was forced to return to London that day.

It would prove to be the start of a wedge between her and many of the royals, but the duchess' appearance at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan this summer has been dubbed the moment she was re-installed as a member of "the firm". 

Answering presenter Piers Morgan, who suggested it was a comeback moment, the duchess said: "It's very kind of you to say - it was nerve-wracking. I'm glad didn't fall in those high heels.

"I kept thinking of Diana in my heart and mum. 

"My father would say, 'show goes on, get on with it', so that's what I did."

The thousands gathered in Windsor were sent into a frenzy when she arrived, as yells of "Fergie" reverberated around the castle grounds. 

"I wanted to cry," the duchess said. "It was quite extraordinary. I was wondering, "Are they doing it for me" And then someone said 'Fergie', and I felt that sense of support. 

"I'm very happy for my friend Diana, and honoured and grateful to Harry and Mehgan for inviting me. 

"It was very kind of them and I can't thank them enough."

The Duchess of York arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

As an outsider, the duchess had found a confidant in Princess Diana. And the wedding brought back strong memories of their friendship.

"She'd have loved every moment of it - she'd be so proud," she said. 

"Even before - she would literally have been saying I cannot believe these boys have done so well. 

"Nobody made me laugh better than as her - she was hilarious.  She had this enormous compassion. She'd have been proud of Meghan and Catherine too. 

"She'd want to embrace them and tell them they're doing well." 

But it was a summer which boasted two royal weddings, with the duchess' daughter Princess Eugenie marrying Jack Brooksbank at the same venue - Windsor Castle. 

The Duchess of York wore green "for Ireland" and accessorised with the bag her own mother carried at her wedding the Prince Andrew in 1986. 

And it appears it was the last time the bag was used. 

Sarah, Duchess of York, arrives at her daughter Princess Eugenie's wedding Credit: Getty

She said: "The ladies next door - Emma and Louise - made the dress. Green for Ireland, and the handbag was what mum had [at my wedding]. 

"I opened the bag and there were the green admission tickets from 1986.

"All along people were saying. "Be demure. Go into the church". But then I saw the lady in the wheelchair who was mum's best friend," she said, talking about running into the crowd to give a visitor a hug. 

On the newest member of her family, her son-in-law Jack, she said: "You can't write or say - it was such an honour. The love is so strong - they're twin flames. 

"To see Eugenie blossom as she has and to be so brave with scoliosis."

With so many weddings, rumours have surfaced regarding her relationship with Prince Andrew.  

Piers Morgan asked the duchess, given that they live together, whether they would be getting back together. 

"Thousands of people [ask me that]," she replied. 

"Piers - you're such a romantic. What I love about hat is that I'm different, and he's different."

With time running out on the programme - the duchess was asked outright if she was re-marrying. 

"Piers - get a life," was the reply.

The breakdown in the marriage had caused tension between the duchess and the Queen, but there were only warm words for the monarch.  

Prince Andrew and his bride Sarah Ferguson waving to crowds as they leave Westminster Abbey, London Credit: PA

She said: "I just think that Her Majesty is an incredible lady. What an icon for the country and one of the the finest woman I've ever met.

"I think she knew me as a little naughty aged 10. I still am a little naughty aged 10. I suppose I always will be, I can't thank her enough."