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The toe-sucking pictures exposed me for what I was ..worthless and unfit to be a royal.

Fergie's book is a frank "confessional" of her 10-year descent from glittering royal bride to shamed outcast of the House of Windsor.

The 37-year-old duchess does not spare herself as she tells how she brought huge embarrassment to herself and the monarchy.

"I was hopeless from the start," she says, "the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"They could never make me the perfect princess."

The former wife of Prince Andrew also bares her soul about the infamous toe-sucking pictures with lover John Bryan, saying: "I was exposed for what I truly was. Worthless. Unfit. A national disgrace."

She says the photos left the Queen "furious".

The Fergie book - her own version of a life put under the microscope worldwide in recent weeks - is titled My Story and will be published later this month.

She wed Andrew in 1986, bore him two daughters Beatrice and Eugenie, and they divorced earlier this year.

Their dream marriage eventually became surrounded in scandal - highlighted by the Daily Mirror pictures in 1992 of Fergie topless in the South of France having her toes sucked by Texan Bryan.

For that public humiliation, she writes, she could have blamed others - the Press, Bryan, or the paparazzi photographer who took the holiday snap.

But she had a "much nearer, surer target...myself".

In a book which will spark sympathy from even her worst enemies, the duchess tells of her agony when she joined the Royal Family. And of how the Palace "Old Guard" ganged up on her to drive her away.

She and Andrew discussed splitting in 1992 - not because they stopped caring for each other but because she had reached the end of her "royal rope".

Fergie adds: "For six years I had endured the constant scrutiny of the British press and the barely veiled hostility of the courtiers who run the show.

"Gradually, relentlessly, they had beaten me down. They were killing me by inches; it was time to save my life."

The BBC put out a report that "the knives are out for Fergie at the Palace" and branded her "unsuitable" for royal life.

Fergie writes: "Deep down I knew that the charge was fair. I was unsuitable, always had been.

"I was never cut out for the job and the harder I pushed the more things fell apart.

"I knew that I'd been seen for what I was: unworthy, unattractive, unaccomplished. And finally, logically, undone."

Fergie, daughter of polo-playing Major Ron Ferguson, whose own sexual indiscretions have hit the headlines, was first introduced to Andrew in June 1985.

The boisterous couple hit it off immediately, and Fergie later told how she and Andrew shared the same childish sense of humour, pelting each other with profiteroles.

The Queen took to the "country girl" with an enthusiasm she never felt for hunt-hating Diana.

Fergie was hailed both inside and outside the Royal Family as a "breath of fresh air".

But within months of the wedding ceremony in Westminster Abbey in July 1986, trouble was brewing.

Sarah, lacking the upper-class upbringing which Diana had enjoyed, frequently put her foot in it with old-world courtiers.

And when her first daughter Beatrice was born in August 1988, she came under real fire for the first time.

Fergie left her while she followed Andrew, who had sailed to Australia on naval duties. To her critics, the wayward duchess seemed to be copying the example of her mother Susan, who abandoned her own children to run away to Argentina and marry polo player Hector Barrantes.

From then on, the criticism came fast and furious. She was slated as a bad mother, for her bizarre dress sense, for being too fat, and for her boisterous behaviour.

But nothing could prepare her for the aftermath of the French holiday with "financial adviser" Bryan.

They took careful precautions - flying on a private jet to a private airfield and staying in a secluded villa surrounded by dense woodland.

But a French photographer found them and the world learned they were lovers.

Fergie was at Balmoral as a guest of the Queen with other senior royals when the storm broke.

As Charles, Diana, Edward, Andrew and Anne stared open-mouthed at the Daily Mirror over breakfast, Fergie hid in her room.

She says in her book that the trip to St Tropez with Bryan was "a stupidity" which felt wrong from the beginning.

At Balmoral, she plucked up the courage to face the one person she feared, and revered, most - the Queen.

Fergie tells of that awful moment when she faced her mother-in-law.

"The Queen was furious," she says.

"Her anger wounded me to the core, the more because I knew it was justified.

"I had violated her trust. I'd betrayed the bond."

Fergie took brandy and for the first and only time in her life - Valium - to cope with the stress.

In the saddest admission of all in a book to be serialised in Hello! magazine, the duchess writes:

"I had to confront the broken shell of my existence - and how empty it had been even when it was intact.

"I had to put myself back together when all the king's horses and all the king's men had already written the job off."
COPYRIGHT 1996 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Arnold, Harry
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 4, 1996
Words:872
Previous Article:Love story denied by princess.
Next Article:FERGIE: I AM A NATIONAL DISGRACE.



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