'The Crown': Inside Sarah Ferguson's TOE-SUCKING scandal that rocked monarchy

The Duchess was embroiled in the Royal family's biggest-ever scandal when photos with her 'financial advisor' were taken at her holiday villa in St Tropez

'The Crown': Inside Sarah Ferguson's TOE-SUCKING scandal that rocked monarchy
Sarah Ferguson's 'toe-sucking' scandal came 5 months after the divorce announcement from Prince Andrew (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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​In 1992, the royal family experienced what is called an "annus horribilis," that is, a terrible year. The family was beset by several scandals, such as Princess Diana's taped revelations about the difficulties of her marriage to Prince Charles and Princess Anne's divorce from her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips. But worse was to come. In March, Sarah Ferguson, wife of Prince Andrew, became embroiled in a toe-sucking scandal months after the couple announced their divorce.

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Ferguson, affectionately known as Fergie, was slated by the tabloids at the time after she was pictured in private during a 1992 vacation in St Tropez with a man who was reportedly her "financial advisor." The two were seen cuddling and kissing, and the man kissed the Duchess of York's foot. However, one headline changed everything, as it read, "Fergie foot-job," which later became known as the "toe-sucking scandal." The explosive moment and the repeated events are also depicted in the Netflix drama series 'The Crown,' where the name of the financial advisor —John Bryan, a millionaire from Texas — is mentioned.

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Fergie and Andrew married in Westminster Abbey in 1986 and had two daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, before separating in 1992. However, it took four years for their divorce to be finalized. However, this scandal was not the reason for the divorce as the royal family was affected five months after it was announced. The intimate pictures showed the royal member in a compromising situation when she was photographed with a telephoto lens sitting by the pool with Bryan. At the time, Ferguson was living with her family at Balmoral Castle. However, when she was seen with Bryan, she quickly left the castle with her children and their nanny.

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According to The Mirror, royal writer Richard Kay revealed that the night before the pictures became a worldwide sensation, Princess Diana paged Kay and simply said, "The redhead's in trouble." Kay explained that he was then contacted by Bryan, who asked him if he could get an early copy of the paper to put on the royal family's table that morning. Kay agreed as he was then contacted by Ferguson. Kay wrote, "Bryan promised her everything would be fine, but I could see on his face that he didn't really believe it." In a few short hours, those pictures would be on the sideboard in the breakfast room of the Queen's castle. They'd also fly around the world and be viewed by millions of people. According to Kay, Bryan was pissed at the misinformation and said, "I wasn't sucking her toes, I was kissing them!"

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Sarah, Duchess of York arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle before the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.
Sarah, Duchess of York arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle before the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018, in Windsor, England (Gareth Fuller/Getty Images)

1992 was truly a tough year for the royal family as nothing was going in the right direction. As per Marie Claire, the marriage between Ferguson and Andrew did not work because the husband was never home. Ferguson told the outlet, "What I got was not the man, I got the palace and didn't get him." Both parties are still on good terms. While she ceased being a Royal Highness, she retained the title of 'Duchess of York' until she remarries. Back in 2021, the scandal made rounds once again. 

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