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Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew: a closer look at their unusual relationship

The couple remain on the best of terms, despite their split in 1992

Gemma Strong

It's been 21 years since Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew were officially divorced, and yet the former couple have managed to maintain a remarkably close relationship – so much so, that there has been speculation in the past that they will one day remarry. The foundation for their bond is twofold; friendship and family. Both parents are devoted to their daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and have worked hard over the years to give the girls a solid and stable upbringing, despite their decision to split. We take a closer look inside Sarah and Andrew's unbreakable bond…

Sarah and the Prince – the second son of the Queen and Prince Philip – were introduced by the late Princess Diana. Initially, the couple met as children, but fell out of touch in later years; in her autobiography, Sarah recalled sneaking away from her father's polo matches as a youngster to "play tag with like-minded truants – including Prince Andrew, who was just my age". Years later, Diana invited Sarah to a party at Windsor Castle, where the pair met again and promptly started dating. Andrew proposed after a whirlwind romance and the couple announced their engagement in March 1986. They were married at Westminster Abbey on 23 July 1986, and welcomed daughter Beatrice in August 1988, followed by Eugenie in March 1990.

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Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew pictured together in 1986

GALLERY: Sarah Ferguson's great bond with daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie

But, by the following year, the marriage was in trouble. The couple decided to legally separate in 1992, triggered by the demands of his naval career – which meant the couple saw each other for a mere 40 days a year for the first five years – as well as rumours of her infidelity. Four years later, the Duke and Duchess announced their mutual decision to divorce, in May 1996. Reflecting on the split in a 2011 interview with Harper's Bazaar, Sarah admitted: "I didn't want a divorce but had to because of circumstance." Of her 1996 divorce deal with the Queen, she said she had opted for "friendship not money", explaining: "When I met with Her Majesty about it, she asked, 'What do you require, Sarah?' and I said, 'Your friendship,' which I think amazed her because everyone said I would demand a big settlement. But I wanted to be able to say, 'Her Majesty is my friend'— not fight her nor have lawyers saying, 'Look, she is greedy.' I left my marriage knowing I'd have to work. I have."

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The couple on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, following their July 1986 wedding

Certainly, Sarah seems to remain on good terms with the royal family. Despite reports of a difficult relationship with her former father-in-law, Prince Philip, she has maintained a close connection with the Queen, who frequently invites her to join Andrew in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. She has also acted as a representative of the royal family in recent years, standing in for Prince Andrew with the approval of the palace, and has been welcomed as a guest at Balmoral, the Queen's Scottish estate, on a number of occasions.

STORY: Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew spent what would have been their 30th wedding anniversary together 

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Together at Royal Ascot in 2016

She and Andrew also maintain a close friendship, dining out together at restaurants and uniting for all major family events, including Princess Beatrice's graduation in 2011. More recently, Sarah and Andrew – who she described as "my handsome prince, he'll always be my handsome prince" in a 2013 interview - purchased a chalet together in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier, some 20 years after their divorce.

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The former couple both attended eldest daughter Princess Beatrice's graduation in 2011

In an exclusive interview with HELLO! last year, Sarah gave a revealing insight into her bond with Andrew. "A table can't stand on three legs, really, so you have the Duke and I, and the two girls. We're a family unit and we lead by example. We support each other emotionally and we support each other health wise. At least every two weeks we sit down and communicate, the four of us." She continued: "I think the one thing I've done incredibly well – although I say it myself - is that I'm a really good mum. And I think my girls shows that."

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