Sarah Ferguson was left “absolutely humiliated” after she was turned into a scapegoat for the “biggest Royal Family cock-up in history”. The Duchess of York was held responsible after taking part in ‘It’s a Royal Knockout,’ a TV stunt that was later described as a “royal disaster”. The embarrassing incident was discussed on Channel 5’s documentary Fergie Vs Diana: Royal Wives At War.
The bizarre stunt was organised by Prince Edward, and also featured the Princess Royal and the Duke of York.
It was a one-off charity event, also known as the Grand Knockout Tournament, which took place on 15 June 1987.
Sarah Ferguson chose to take part in the TV game show after losing favour with members of the royal family and the public.
Documentary narrator Glynis Barber explained: “The national Fergie mania was beginning to wear off inside and outside the royal family.”
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Jennie Bond, journalist and royal expert, said: “It didn’t take long before the honeymoon was wearing off and people rather tired of that exuberance that they once loved.
“It began to grate and soon she was getting and receiving some very unflattering headlines in the press.”
Barber added: “In an effort to win back public support, Fergie took part in a TV game show, organised by Prince Edward.”
Bond said: “It will go down in royal history as one of the biggest cock-ups of all-time I think.
The royal commentators noted that this was around the time “when Diana came into her own” and earned the nickname the People’s Princess.
Reportedly the Queen had disapproved of the TV show and all of her courtiers had advised against it.
Ben Pimlott’s 1996 biography, The Queen, revealed that one of the monarch’s close friends said: “It was a terrible mistake. The Queen was against it.
“But one of her faults is that she can’t say no.”
Another insider source told Pimlott: “There was not a single courtier who did not think it was a mistake.”
The Channel 5 documentary discussed how then tumultuous relationship between Diana and Sarah, who were distantly related before joining the Royal Family.
The pair had known each other since they were 14 years old.