Sarah, Duchess of York wasn’t even born when her uncle, John Ferguson, died at age 10 in 1939 from an allergic reaction after he ate a crab sandwich, but her relative’s death affected her deeply, and it’s part of why she was recently spurred into action on behalf of allergy sufferers.
“My father was never the same after that and my grandmother never forgot John,” the duchess said on ITV News’ This Morning on Tuesday (June 25).
Sarah appeared on the show with Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse , whose daughter Natasha died on a flight to Nice, France when she ate a baguette that contained sesame, to which she was allergic, but which no one knew was in the food because it was improperly labelled.
Sarah met the couple when they returned home to the UK with their Natasha’s coffin. The duchess, who was sitting behind them on the flight at the time, asked them what had happened because they were crying so much.
“I said, ‘I’m so sorry, I’ve just got to know, is there anything I can do? I feel so much pain for you,’” the mom of two said on the programme.
When they told her their story, Sarah said she would work with them to help change the law. The result is “Natasha’s Law,” which will require all ingredients to be listed on packaged food in England and Northern Ireland by the summer of 2021. Current rules in England and Northern Ireland state that food such as packaged sandwiches or salad made in shops where it is sold is not required to display allergen information, according to the Telegraph.
“While Natasha’s Law comes too late to save our beloved daughter, we believe that helping save other allergy sufferers and their families from the enduring agony that we will always bear is a fitting legacy for her life,” Tanya and Nadim said in a statement about the news.
In helping Nadim and Tanya, Sarah also became a patron of the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation. It was set up by the couple, who hope to start a research centre that will eventually find a cure for allergies. They asked Sarah to be the organization’s patron earlier this year, and she said she was “very proud” to be asked.
“Every day I keep a picture of Natasha and I talk to her,” Sarah said on This Morning. “So as I go by her every morning, I say, ‘It’s alright, Natasha, we’ve got this, we got this, we’ve got you.’”