The early 1990s were a difficult time for the Royal Family, especially 1992. Dubbed by Queen Elizabeth her “annus horribilis” (horrible year), a tell-all book, leaked phone calls, a fire at the castle of Windsor and the end of multiple marriages providing an endless supply of tabloid fodder.
In March 1992, Buckingham Palace officially announced that Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, were separating after six years of marriage.
However, separation rumors had plagued the couple for months, with tabloids claiming the then 32-year-old Duchess was having an affair with Texas millionaire Steve Wyatt.
Allegations of infidelity reached a boiling point on this day in 1992, when photos of the Duchess and Wyatt taken during a trip to Morocco two years earlier were stolen from Wyatt’s apartment in London by cleaning staff and leaked to the press.
According to reports, the photos showed Wyatt with his arm around Ferguson, who joined Wyatt for a vacation with his eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice via his private jet.
After learning of the leaked photos, Ferguson suffered a “seizure” on a flight from Miami with his father, Ronald. The couple returned home from attending a fundraising event in Palm Beach, Florida when the Duchess became erratic acting in front of royal reporters.
“The poor girl was so upset she had a meltdown on her way home,” Tina Brown wrote in her 2007 book “The Diana Chronicles.”
According to Brown, Ferguson “sent back champagne, threw wet towels, peanuts and tissues, and placed a sick bag over her head in which she allegedly made strange ‘telephone noises'”.
Ferguson’s bodyguards reportedly told onlookers the Duchess was “deeply troubled” while insiders said the Royal was “devastated” at the end of her affair with Wyatt.
“Steve Wyatt was the love of his life,” said David Leigh, co-writer of “The Duchess of York Uncensored.” “Andrew may have been his best friend, and he probably still is now and probably always will be, but Steve Wyatt was the love life of his life.
The photos reported to Buckingham Palace that Andrew and Ferguson’s marriage was beyond repair. While the out-of-court exes didn’t settle their divorce until 1996, coverage of the couple’s split became a blight on the royal family.
In August 1992, Ferguson would once again make headlines for a photo scandal. The Duchess was snapped by paparazzi while vacationing in the south of France with financial adviser John Byron kissing and sucking Ferguson’s toes.