Sarah, Duchess of York, has opened up about a piece of advice given to her by her lifelong friend Princess Diana that she says has always stayed with her.
She says that when she first married Prince Andrew, she was subjected to unkind scrutiny from royal watchers, being dubbed the “Duchess of Pork” because of her weight.
"I had major mental health problems because of the trauma," says the Duchess, in a promotional interview for her debut novel, Her Heart for a Compass, which is due to be published on August 3.
She says that while some people tried to pit her and Diana against one another, the then Princess of Wales was always a good friend to her.
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"In the '80s, it was Diana looking beautiful, and there was fat, frumpy Fergie," she told People magazine.
"We were just there for people to make a lot of money. At the time we both didn't realise that."
Sarah later discussed the negative effect of the press stories about her weight on her self-esteem and added that they made her eating disorder worse.
"Diana and I both had our own mental health issues, and she and I used to talk," she continued.
"She said, 'Fergie, remember one thing, when you're at the top of the pedestal, it's so easy to fall off. And you're at the bottom. You just climb up'.
"We were positioned as saint and sinner. And the most important thing was to remain robust together, and we did, no matter what anyone wrote."
After five years of her marriage to Prince Andrew, Sarah was finding life as a member of the royal family increasingly difficult. Andrew was away at sea for long periods and she found herself drawing close to Texan multimillionaire Steve Wyatt and American financier John Bryan.
When paparazzi photos of her cavorting by a swimming pool with Bryan emerged, her marriage to Andrew collapsed. "I'll never forget walking in one day to see my girls, and I said, 'I'm so sorry, girlies because I really think I've destroyed myself,'" she said.
Princess Margaret reportedly wrote in a letter to the Duchess at the time: "You have done more to bring shame on the family than could ever have been imagined."
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