SARAH Ferguson, known affectionately as Fergie, grew up on Dummer Down Farm in Hampshire.

She has an aristocratic background with royal Stuart ancestry.

She married into the current royal family on July 23, 1986 when she wed Prince Andrew. The couple's romance was orchestrated by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1985.

The couple had two children: Princess Beatrice, born in 1988, and Princess Eugenie, born in 1990.

They separated early in 1992 but did not officially divorce until 1996.

They continued to be close and shared the raising of their daughters.

Following the separation the Duchess frequently came under criticism from the press, most notably when a tabloid newspaper published a picture of her having her toe sucked by a wealthy American.

She also came under fire for her struggles with her weight and perceived extravagance.

In 1994 she wrote children's books about the helicopter she learnt to fly in called Budgie in an attempt to recover from some financial difficulties she found herself in. She also published a further children's book, PJ's Storytime.

She moved to America where she successfully rebuilt her life with a media career.

She became an official spokesman for Weight Watchers and has also fronted advertising campaigns for Ocean Spray Juice, Wedgewood China and Westfield Malls.

She has courted media attention, appearing in Friends, Adventures With The Duchess, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, GMTV, The View and This Morning.

Her charity work includes being patron and former president of the Motor Neurone Disease Association as well as US spokesman for SOS Children's Villages.

Name: Sarah Ferguson OCCUPATION: Duchess of York, was married to Prince Andrew, TV presenter, writer Date of birth: October 15, 1959 Local link: Grew up in Dummer, Hampshire