History

Prince Andrew's wedding

23 July 1986

In the summer of 1986, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson married at Westminster Abbey. A worldwide TV audience of 500 million tuned in for the occasion.


Photo: The Duke and Duchess of York stand waving on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day, 23 July 1986. (Getty Images)

Highlights from BBC programmes Video (10)

This event features in:

More information about: Prince Andrew's wedding

How the couple met

Prince Andrew was born on 19 February 1960. The second son of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, he was the first child to be born to a reigning monarch for over a century.

He studied at Gordonstoun in northern Scotland before choosing to enter the Royal Navy rather than go on to university. As a helicopter pilot, he served during the Falklands War.

Born on 15 October 1959, Sarah Ferguson grew up in Hampshire in the south of England before working in public relations at an art gallery and for a publishing house.

The pair had known each other since childhood, but a Windsor Castle party in 1985 led to romance. An engagement followed in early 1986 and the stage was set for a summer wedding.

The wedding day

Thousands of people lined the streets of London and a worldwide TV audience of 500 million tuned in to watch the wedding. Miss Ferguson travelled from Clarence House to Westminster Abbey with her father, Major Ronald.

The bride was in an ivory duchess satin dress with a 17-foot train, and the groom wore the ceremonial day dress of a naval lieutenant. In the church were 2,000 guests, among them US First Lady Nancy Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - and 30,000 flowers.

The service was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, with Prince Edward as the supporter (best man), and Prince Charles read the lesson.

The Queen conferred Prince Andrew with the title Duke of York just 90 minutes before the ceremony. The new Duchess of York mistakenly repeated Prince Andrew's middle name, Christian, and agreed to obey her husband - a clause omitted by Princess Diana in her 1981 marriage to Prince Charles.

An estimated crowd of 100,000 gathered to see the couple's first public kiss as man and wife on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. After this, a party was held at Claridges Hotel and the pair honeymooned in the Azores.

Life after the wedding

The Duke and Duchess of York had two daughters - Princess Beatrice in August 1988 and Princess Eugenie in March 1990.

They divorced in 1996, but were living together again a year later at the family home in Berkshire.

In an attempt to recover from large debts, Sarah Ferguson published children's books and made TV appearances. In 2010, secretly filmed News of the World footage appeared to show her offering a reporter access to her ex-husband for £500,000.

After the marriage, the Duke of York continued as a naval officer. He is currently the UK's special representative for international trade and investment.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.