Neither Meghan Markle nor Sarah Ferguson are expected to be at King Charles III's coronation - while questions remain over whether Prince Andrew will
More than 2,000 people will gather at Westminster Abbey on May 6 for the nation’s first event of its kind in 70 years, with the guest list now starting to take shape.
Most of the Royal Family will attend the ceremony, led by senior members Prince William, Princess Anne and Prince Edward along with their spouses and children.
Foreign dignitaries are set to include First Lady Jill Biden – but not her husband Joe – along with leaders from the likes of France, Spain, Belgium, Japan and Monaco.
But it was claimed today that Charles has not invited Sarah – meaning the Duchess of York, who is his former sister-in-law, will have to watch the event on television.
And it comes one day after Buckingham Palace revealed Prince Harry will be at the event but his wife will stay in California with the couple’s children Archie and Lilibet.
Sarah, Duchess of York and Prince Andrew attend Ascot Racecourse together in June 2019
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and then-Prince Charles at Westminster Abbey in March 2019
Sarah, 63, nicknamed ‘Fergie’, still lives with her ex-husband Andrew at the Windsor mansion of Royal Lodge despite their divorce in 1996.
But she is now not expected to attend the coronation – despite Andrew and their daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie all set to be there.
However, Andrew, Eugenie and Beatrice are all not expected to be part of the procession because this will be restricted to working members of the family.
It is not yet confirmed whether Andrew will be present – and even if he is, he will not have any special ceremonial roles.
Royal sources have already dismissed the idea that he could play a significant part in the proceedings.
Andrew also will not be invited to stand on the balcony at Buckingham Palace with other members of the family during the celebrations.
But the report in The Independent today about Fergie’s absence will likely surprise some royal watchers – with Meghan Markle ‘s friend Omid Scobie tweeting: ‘If true, this feels kinda cruel, no?’
Sarah did attend the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey last September, but was not one of the 30 guests for Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021.
She was not invited to Prince William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, saying she went on holiday to Thailand instead – but did attend Harry and Meghan’s marriage at St George’s Chapel in Windsor in May 2018.
Given Charles is now king, William is heir to the throne – with him and Kate now set to play important roles in the event.
Prince George has also been handed a notable role in proceedings, as one of Charles’s four Pages of Honour.
George will be required to carry the King’s robes with three other Pages of Honour – schoolboys Lord Oliver Cholmondeley, 13, Nicholas Barclay, 13, and Ralph Tollemache, 12. All three are sons of His Majesty’s friends.
Camilla has made her three grandsons – twins Gus and Louis Lopes, 13, and Freddy Parker Bowles, 12, as well as her great-nephew, Arthur Elliot, 11 – Pages of Honour as she is crowned Queen.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata will attend, but Cabinet ministers will be denied a ‘plus one’.
Organisers say space is very limited and the guest list will be similar to the Queen’s state funeral where very few politicians could take their partners.
That decision has sparked anger among some senior ministers who believe their spouses deserve a much-coveted place.
Former prime ministers are expected to be granted plus ones, as happened at the Queen’s funeral in September.
Speaking about Sarah’s absence, one of her friends told the Independent: ‘She has been hugely supportive of Charles and Camilla and does not want this to become about her.
‘The whole day is about the new King and the success of his reign but she has always championed the royal family and the Queen undoubtedly would have wanted her to be there.’
Sarah, Duchess of York (centre, left) posted a picture in May 2020 of her with Prince Andrew (centre, right) and their daughters Princess Eugenie (far right) and Princess Beatrice (far left)
Princesses Beatrice (left) and Eugenie at the Easter Sunday service in Windsor on April 9
Camilla, King Charles III, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew at Windsor Castle on April 9
Her lack of coronation invite comes despite Andrew turning up at the Easter Service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, although her ex-husband is still excluded from most of life within the Royal Family.
Sarah herself has also had something of a renaissance in recent months, having been invited to join King Charles and other senior royals at Sandringham at Christmas, as well as looking after the late Queen’s corgis.
She was also a favourite of the late Queen and they were known to spend plenty of time together including walks at Windsor Park.
They knew each other before Sarah’s marriage to Andrew because her father Major Ronald Ferguson was the royal polo manager.
Last month Sarah revealed during a chat with Glamour editor Samantha Barry that she had not received an invitation to the coronation – joking that it was ‘TBD’ whether she would end up going.
‘The invitations haven’t gone out yet. Have they?’ she asked when questioned whether she plans to go.
Sarah also insisted that a lack of invitation did not bother her, saying: ‘Well I’ve decided the best thing about being British around a coronation – although I’ve never been to one – I think we should, I should set up a tea room at the bottom of the drive with bunting and cakes.’
Just over a week ago she spoke of her continued sadness at the Queen’s death but also her admiration for Charles.
In an interview to promote her new historical fiction book ‘A Most Intriguing Lady’, Sarah told OK! magazine: ‘I have known both the King and the Queen Consort since I was a child.
Sarah, Duchess of York and then-Prince Charles kiss after a polo match in Windsor in June 1986
Charles speaks with Sarah during Princess Eugenie’s wedding in Windsor in October 2018
‘I think if you look at the King’s track record in areas like the environment, where he was decades ahead of his time, and the Prince’s Trust, it’s clear what an extraordinary man he is and how fortunate we are to have him on the throne.
‘I also admire the way the Queen Consort has worked tirelessly in areas like literacy and domestic violence.’
While speaking to Royal Central to promote her new book, Sarah also revealed that she is considering writing another autobiography.
Fergie has already written two memoirs of her own – the first being My Story, published in 1996 just months after her divorce from Andrew was finalised.
She then wrote Finding Sarah, which came out in 2011 after another bout of financial woes.
Any new autobiography is likely to cover more recent years, including the period around Andrew’s very public fall from grace.
Despite the pair having been divorced for nearly 30 years they are still said to remain best friends and live together.
It has been rumoured that Andrew is also considering putting his own side of recent events down in print – but sources close to the disgraced royal have denied this.
Yesterday, Buckingham Palace ended months of speculation when it confirmed Harry will be a guest at Westminster Abbey, despite his troubled relationship with his family, though Meghan will stay in the US and miss Charles’s big day.
Sarah, Duchess of York has recently been on a publicity tour to promote her new historical fiction book ‘A Most Intriguing Lady’. She is pictured in conversation in New York on March 6
Sarah, Duchess of York (centre) with Jack Brooksbank (left) and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi (right) at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022
The King’s second son, who moved to California after stepping down as a senior working royal, is currently taking legal action against the Home Office over his security arrangements in the UK.
A mass police presence will be out in force on the streets of central London on the bank holiday weekend in May as well-wishers flock to the capital to see the King, Camilla and the royal family take part in a grand carriage procession and make an appearance on the balcony at Buckingham Palace.
Harry’s stay in the UK will be brief, with the duke heading quickly back to California to join the celebrations for Prince Archie’s fourth birthday, which coincides with the day of the coronation.
The duke will only be attending the ceremony and not taking part in other coronation festivities during the three-day bank holiday weekend.
A concert is being staged at Windsor Castle on Sunday May 7, with people also encouraged to come together across the country for a Coronation Big Lunch, while on Monday May 8, the focus is a Big Help Out volunteering drive.