Only After Breast Cancer Diagnosis Did Sarah Ferguson Stop Comparing Herself to Late Sister-in-Law Princess Diana

“I didn’t like myself and that was because, I think, I was always compared to Diana.”

Sarah Ferguson on a red carpet
(Image credit: Getty)

There’s nothing really new under the sun, and before there was the ubiquitous Kate and Meghan comparisons, in the 1980s and 1990s, it was Diana versus Fergie. In addition to being sisters-in-law, Princess Diana and Sarah, Duchess of York were longtime friends, and, on her podcast “Tea Talks with the Duchess and Sarah,” Ferguson admitted that only after her recent breast cancer diagnosis did she stop comparing herself to the former Princess of Wales. The episode, released just one day before the twenty-sixth anniversary of Diana’s death on August 31, saw Ferguson speaking out about “how lucky” she was, and how her health scare helped her finally stop being so hard on herself, as she “was always compared to Diana.”

Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson chat at polo in 1983

(Image credit: Getty)

“There are extraordinary moments…even what this mastectomy has done for me,” Ferguson said, per People. “Does it take to have something cut off, a body part cut off, in order for you to wake up? Not because of seeing death, but waking up to stop worrying, stop self-hatred, stop self-doubt, stop not liking yourself. Does it take that? Honestly, I think it was so lucky.”

Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson

(Image credit: Getty Images)

She continued “When I look back, okay, I’ve got good legs, but I didn’t like myself and that was because, I think, I was always compared to Diana. And I think that at the end, I sort of believed my own press, which is, you know, not too good, right? So that’s interesting, I think. I’m very lucky that my sister sent me to have the mammogram and they found it in time—I’m very, very lucky. The greatest luck of my life has been to have a wonderful sister.”

Of the endless—and often cruel—comparisons between Diana and Fergie, Ferguson told People in 2021 “We promised each other we would always be together—there was never any daylight between us,” she said. “But everybody wanted [to see a feud] because we were so strong together. People want to break something so strong.” The two were actually not speaking when Diana died in 1997, she told Harper’s Bazaar: “The saddest thing, at the end, [was that] we hadn’t spoken for a year, though I never knew the reason,” Ferguson said. “I tried, wrote letters, thinking whatever happened didn’t matter, let’s sort it out. And I knew she’d come back. In fact, the day before she died, she rang a friend of mine and said, ‘Where’s that Red? I want to talk to her.’” 

Sarah Ferguson

(Image credit: Getty)

Elsewhere in the episode—which was the podcast’s season one finale—Ferguson revealed that Queen Elizabeth’s last words to her before her death last September tied in with the theme of self-love: “It’s the last thing that the Queen said to me: ‘Just be yourself, Sarah,’” Ferguson said. “And she saw it. She just got so annoyed when I wasn’t being myself. And that’s probably when I got into all the pickles. But now I am myself, and I’m just so lucky to be able to be myself.”

Sarah Ferguson

(Image credit: Getty)

It seems Ferguson has taken Her late Majesty’s advice, as The Daily Express reports that she is the “life and soul” at Balmoral this summer, where the late Queen died last September 8 at 96 years old, and where the royal family is currently gathered for their first Balmoral getaway since her passing.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.