Latest News

In 1992, Sarah Ferguson Was Driven From The Royal Family For A “Toe Sucking” Photo

It marked a scandalous end to her marriage to Prince Andrew.
Loading the player...

The year was 1992 and the royal family were in the midst of its annus horribilis (AKA, a “horrible year”, as Queen Elizabeth II frankly put it). Among bombshell tell-all books and disintegrating marriages, Sarah Ferguson, the wife of Prince Andrew, found herself front and centre of one of the biggest headlines of the year: the infamous toe sucking photos.

While Ferguson (commonly known as “Fergie”) and Andrew had announced their separation in March of that year, the Duchess of York made the front page of numerous tabloids five months later when she appeared in pictures with a man, referred by media as her ‘financial advisor’, who appeared to suck and kiss her toes while they holidayed in St Tropez. 

The moment sparked yet another media storm over the movements of the royal family at the time, further tarnishing its image after Andrew Morton released Princess Diana’s taped tell-all in 1992 which exposed shocking realities she faced as Prince Charles’ wife and mother to an heir. It also aligned with the finalisation of Princess Anne’s divorce from her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips. 

The fifth season of The Crown will delve into this challenging period for the royal family, but as we all know, it was only the beginning—in a far more problematic turn of events, Prince Andrew’s affiliation with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was exposed in 2019, and while he settled the sexual assault case made against him by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre for an undisclosed sum in 2021, he remains disgraced to this day having been stripped of his royal titles

But this was the 90s and no one knew what would lie ahead. Below, we recap exactly what went down with Fergie’s toe-sucking scandal. 


So what exactly was the Sarah Ferguson toe-sucking scandal? 

In August 1992, photos captured with a telephoto lens revealed Fergie relaxing by a pool in St. Tropez with a man named John Bryan, a millionaire from Texas. The pair were pictured kissing, cuddling and in one photo, the man is seen sucking on the Duchess’ toe. 

The intimate pictures revealed the royal in another, far more personal light. When they were published, Fergie was staying at Balmoral Castle with her family, but she quickly departed with her children and their nanny, per The Mirror

The Crown season five covers off the scandal in a candid conversation of revelations between The Queen (played by Imelda Staunton) and Prince Andrew (played by James Murray), with the actors having “great fun” in recreating it. 

“Working with Imelda Staunton [who plays the queen] is always fun and there’s always a healthy dose of humour, that was wonderful to play off,” Murray told marie claire Australia. 

“And playing those two characters, with Andrew allegedly being the Queen’s ‘favourite’, and to spark off that idea was great fun. It was a great scene to film.” 

Did the pictures lead to Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew’s divorce? 

Not necessarily. While the pictures appeared several months after Andrew and Sarah announced their separation, it took another four years before their divorce was finalised in May 1996. 

Fergie later claimed her marriage troubles had stemmed from Prince Andrew’s prolonged absences from their family home. 

“What I got was not the man, I got the palace and didn’t get him,” she said. 

To this day, it appears Fergie and Andrew are on good terms, and they now live together in Windsor. Fergie still frequently attends royal events, and she continues to undertake charity work with Children in Crisis, an non-profit organisation which she founded in 1993. 

Related stories