The Duchess of York’s Toe Scandal


By 1992, the marriage between Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson (the Duke and Duchess of York) was faltering. They had married just six years earlier in a fairy-tale wedding watched by 500 million TV viewers.

The Duchess was with various men including Texan multimillionaire Steve Wyatt,  while her husband was away on royal duties. They agreed to separate in January 1992, but in August 1992, surreptitiously taken photographs of John Bryan, an American financial manager — apparently in the act of sucking on the toes of a topless Sarah in Southern France — were published in the British tabloid The Daily Mirror.

The photos showed the couple kissing and embracing, and frolicking in the pool. In one image, her two-year-old daughter Eugenie looked on as Bryan kissed the duchess mother on the lips. Never before had a member of the royal family been seen in such an intimate light. (In a related image, Fergie’s bodyguards are seen snoozing by the pool).

When the pictures were published in the Daily Mirror on August 20, its 3.5 million print run sold out by 9am. The Duchess was at Balmoral with the rest of the Royal Family when the story broke. Prince Philip handed her a copy of the paper and quipped “there but for the grace of God go I.” (Notoriously picky Duke of Edinburgh liked Sarah as much as he detested Diana).  The queen was less amused; the Queen’s private secretary told the Duchess that she might feel better if she left immediately to London, effectively banishing her from the royal household. She would never be reinvited back to Balmoral until 2008. The only feeble defense both Fergie and John Bryan could muster up was that he hadn’t been sucking her toes, he was simply kissing the instep of her foot.


Now that you are here: I am doing something crassly commercial here. I just signed up for Patreon. Patreon is a fundraising platform. In their words, “Patreon is an Internet-based platform that allows content creators to build their own subscription content service.” As you may notice in last few years, I have been posting very infrequently. But I want IP to go on for a long time and be sustainable. Linking a monetary value to a new post (not a ‘monthly salary’ — which is another way of doing Patreon) should give me a marginal incentive to write more. As far as the blog is concerned, nothing will change. No paywalls. Patreon is more useful for YouTubers and podcasters, but let’s see how it goes for me: https://www.patreon.com/iconicphotos 

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