The royal scandal that caused Sarah Ferguson's mid-air 'meltdown'

·Lifestyle & Features Editor
·3-min read
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York faced two photo scandals during her marriage to Prince Andrew. (Image via Getty Images)
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York faced two photo scandals during her marriage to Prince Andrew. (Image via Getty Images)

The early '90s were a difficult time for the Royal Family— particularly 1992. Dubbed by Queen Elizabeth as her "annus horribilis" (horrible year), a tell-all book, leaked telephone calls, a fire at Windsor Castle and the end of multiple marriages providing an endless supply of tabloid fodder.

In March 1992, Buckingham Palace formally announced that Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York were separating after six years of marriage.

However, rumours of a split had been plaguing the couple for months, with tabloids claiming that the then 32-year-old Duchess was having an affair with Texas millionaire, Steve Wyatt.

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (Image via Getty Images)
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (Image via Getty Images)
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York.

Allegations of infidelity reached a boiling point on this day in 1992, when photos of the Duchess and Wyatt taken during a trip to Morocco two years earlier were stolen from Wyatt's London apartment by cleaning staff and leaked to the press.

According to reports, the photos showed Wyatt with his arm around Ferguson, who joined Wyatt for a holiday with her eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice via his private jet.

After learning of the photo leak, Ferguson suffered a "meltdown" during a flight from Miami with her father, Ronald. The pair were headed home after attending a fundraising event in Palm Beach, Florida, when the Duchess became erratic, acting out in front of royal journalists.

Sarah, Duchess of York with Princess Beatrice. (Image via Getty Images)
Sarah, Duchess of York with Princess Beatrice. (Image via Getty Images)

"The poor girl was so distraught that she had a meltdown coming home," wrote Tina Brown in her 2007 book “The Diana Chronicles.”

According to Brown, Ferguson was "knocking back champagne, throwing wet towels, peanuts and tissues around, and placing a sick bag over her head into which she reportedly made strange ‘telephone noises.'"

Bodyguards for Ferguson allegedly told on-lookers that the Duchess was "deeply troubled" while insiders said the Royal had been "devastated" by the end of her affair with Wyatt.

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew have remained close despite divorcing in 1996. (Image via Getty Images)
Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew have remained close despite divorcing in 1996. (Image via Getty Images)

“Steve Wyatt was the love of her life," said David Leigh, co-author of "The Duchess of York Uncensored". "Andrew may have been her best friend, and he probably still is now and probably always will be, but Steve Wyatt was the love life of her life.”

The photos signalled to Buckingham Palace that Andrew and Ferguson's marriage was beyond repair. While the amicable exes wouldn't settle their divorce until 1996, the coverage of the couple's separation became a scourge for the Royal Family.

In August 1992, Ferguson would once again make headlines for a photo scandal. The Duchess was photographed by paparazzi during a vacation in the South of France with financial advisor John Byron, who was kissing and sucking Ferguson's toes.

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