Sarah Ferguson shuts down rumours she and Princess Diana had a feud in open letter

By Sarah Walker

Most royal watchers remember Sarah Ferguson and Princess Diana as the best of friends – always spotted out and about together at events, from the Royal Ascot to the Buckingham Palace balcony for Trooping the Colour. But for as long as they were royals together, there were rumours of a rift between them. And on Monday (Feb. 11), the mother of two penned an open letter as part of HELLO!’s #HelloToKindness campaign , asking people to be nicer to one another.

The mother of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie wrote: “Women, in particular, are constantly pitted against and compared with each other in a way that reminds me of how people tried to portray Diana and me all the time as rivals, which is something neither of us ever really felt.”

The online space, Sarah pointed out, has become an unsafe space for many. “People feel licensed to say things online that they would never dream of saying to someone's face, and that encourages others to pile in,” she wrote passionately. “It's so ubiquitous that we've all become numb to what's going on. There is good evidence that this online culture is having a detrimental impact on people's mental health, particularly vulnerable young people.”

The 59-year-old’s poignant and impassioned letter was also a call to action for tech companies to do their part to end the spread of hate online. “Social media companies and news websites need to do much more to take a stand against online abuse, rather than shrugging their shoulders and saying there's nothing they can do about it,” she wrote. “And we all, as individuals, need to take a step back and try to make sure that what we say online is responsible and fair.”

Princess Diana and the Duchess of York were together for Christmas at Sandringham in 1988. Photo: © Tim Graham/Getty Images

In the letter, the busy mom noted that although she’s on social media, she fears the comments she may receive from detractors and trolls. “I rarely if ever go 'below the line' on social media or news websites and read people’s comments. I know that a lot say nice things, but there's a large minority who seem to think that all the normal rules of society don't apply to the internet,” she wrote.

Her approach to coaching her daughter’s through the ups and downs of being online is to lead by example. In a recent interview on Good Morning Britain , she said that she and Prince Andrew have bi-weekly conversations with Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie where they discuss the issues they’re experiencing.

She said: "I believe in example by leadership. The way I have been a mother to my girls, is I never hide anything from them. So, the fears, we address them straight on. Beatrice is 30 and Eugenie is 28 they are young women now and they have their own voice,” she explained. The duchess added that she's proud of the mother figure she's become for her daughters: “I think the one thing I’ve done incredibly well – although I say it myself – is that I’m a really good mum. I think that my girls show that.”

The open letter comes at a time when Kensington Palace has called for an end to the online vitriol and hate that’s being spread about Duchess Meghan and Duchess Kate. According to HELLO!, “a lot of hours are being spent reviewing old material and moderating comments under posts.” A source went on to say to HELLO!: “It follows a Kate vs Meghan narrative and some of the worst stuff is between Kate fans and Meghan fans… Arguments about who looks more appropriate, for example, that turn into personal attacks on other users. It’s creating a supercharged atmosphere and everyone can join in, but what are the consequences of this?”

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