When they began dating, Ferguson herself reportedly didn't imagine it would result in her joining the royal family.
According to a 1987 article, Ferguson, then in her mid-20s with an established career in publishing, saw it perhaps as more of something of a fun fling until Andrew proposed within a year. Though the pair got along well personally, to the public Duchess Fergie provided something of a complimentary foil to Princess Diana.
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She had amassed deep debts, and the Queen refused to pay them on her behalf.
To make a living, she traded in on her high-profile status and become a long-term spokeswoman for Weight Watchers, along with other deals with Avon.
In the show's recent wedding special, her character finally gets the acceptance she craves in the form of an invite, but quickly realized she could make money off the affair by commenting on the wedding on television instead.
Though, in recent years, both Ferguson's finances and public profile seem to have stabilized.
Prince Andrew at the time served as a commander in the British Navy and was often away for long stretches.
The couple announced their separation in January 1992 (royal rumor lore holds that originally Diana and Ferguson made a pact to leave their husbands at the same time, but Diana backed out).
Her father, a former military captain, served as polo manager for both Prince Philip and, later, Prince Charles.
She originally met Prince Andrew when they were children and played tag together in the polo fields.
The Queen suggested she return to London immediately (Prince Philip's reaction was apparently rather more fiery), and though her divorce with Prince Andrew didn't become official until 1996, Ferguson has been effectively persona non grata among the royal family since then.
If Diana's postdivorce life was marked by tragedy, Ferguson's was marked by farce.
Then again, Ferguson wasn't under pressure to live up to the idea of someday being Queen consort.