Sarah Ferguson is delving into her royal family history for a new documentary – and makes a tragic discovery about the mother of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband.
The Duchess of York, who proved her prowess behind the camera when she co-produced the 2009 film The Young Victoria, is in Germany on what she described as an ‘amazing journey’ retracing the footsteps of Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, who was just 16 when she married Albert’s father Ernst.
Having teamed up with Dr Ulrike Grunewald, deputy head of editorial at German television company ZDF, Fergie will this time be in front of the lens to front the insightful hour-long programme, due to air in September.
In an interview with Hello! magazine, Sarah – who shares daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice with ex-husband Prince Andrew – revealed one of the most shocking discoveries she made while travelling with Dr Ulrike to Coburg, Gotha and St Wendel in Germany.
The Duchess of York is delving into her royal family history for a new documentary – and makes a tragic discovery about the mother of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband
Princess Louise was discarded and abandoned by her husband Ernst I, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and sent to a small town called St Wendel, away from her two sons when they were children
The duchess told how Princess Louise – the great-great-great-great-great-grandmother to her daughters – was separated from her two young sons, sent away to a tiny German hamlet and never allowed to see them again for the rest of her life.
‘At the ages of five and seven, the boys Albert and Ernst II lost their mother Louise, who was discarded and abandoned by her husband Ernst I, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and sent to a small town called St Wendel,’ Sarah said.
‘Whatever she had done to upset Ernst – who it seems was tired and bored of her and wanted to divorce – to have to leave her two boys and never see them again was, for me, beyond words.’
She added that she was desperate to know what Princess Louise had done ‘so terribly wrong’ that she should be taken from her children on August 26, 1824 – Albert’s fifth birthday – and put in a carriage, ‘discarded and written out of history’.
Fergie, pictured at Royal Ascot last week, is in Germany on what she described as an ‘amazing journey’ retracing the footsteps of Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Prince Albert went on to marry Princess Victoria. The couple are pictured in 1854, five years after their marriage
Sarah said she ‘couldn’t fathom’ being separated from her two girls and admitted the story struck a chord with her as her own mother, Susan Barrantes, left home when she was a young child.
She described Eugenie and Beatrice as ‘one of the best things’ she’s done with her life, adding that the three of them are like a ‘tripod’ who provide support for each other.
The duchess revealed she and her ex, the Duke of York, work in ‘unity’ and are focused on being good parents ‘together’.
‘We are bigger than friends,’ she said. ‘We learn from each other, support each other and understand it’s about communication, compromise and compassion.’
She explained that she hopes her mission will bestow Princess Louise with a voice from the grave, adding that she felt a ‘peace and calm’ as she stood by her tomb.
The duchess revealed she and her ex, the Duke of York, pictured together in 1987, work in ‘unity’ and are focused on being good parents ‘together’
Sarah said she and Prince Andrew, pictured together at Royal Ascot, ‘learn from each other, support each other and understand it’s about communication, compromise and compassion’
Dr Ulrike previously told Daily Mail columnist Sebastian Shakespeare that they had the key to the mausoleum and ‘want to see if [Princess Louise] is buried next to her first husband Ernst I, Duke Of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha’.
The late princess had stipulated in her will that she did not want to be buried next to him.
Sarah told Hello!: ‘I feel very proud that we are giving Louise her voice and have honoured what an incredible person she must have been.’
Sarah described daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice (pictured at Trooping the Colour earlier this month) as ‘one of the best things’ she’s done with her life, adding that the three of them are like a ‘tripod’ who provide support for each other
Speaking in a video shared on YouTube, the duchess said: ‘It’s a journey into really the mystery of what an extraordinary mother was behind a man like Prince Albert.
‘A man that believed in family unity, a man that held the family together, but he also united Europe, and it is, for me, in all my years of research over all these countless years since 1987, I really kept asking, “Where’s Mum? Where’s Mum?’
Fergie and Dr Ulrike will also investigate a rumour that Prince Albert’s father may not be the Duke of Coburg, but an officer in the Coburg Court.