As The Crown heads into the 1990s with its fifth season, its focus turns more than ever to the Queen's children – Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

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While Charles's marriage to Diana takes prominence in the show's run, the Queen's 'Annus Horribilis', set to be featured in the fifth season, also saw the divorce of Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips, and the separation of Prince Andrew and his wife Sarah Ferguson.

But just how did Andrew's relationship with Sarah play out, how did they meet, why did they get divorced, and what has actor James Murray said about playing Andrew in The Crown season 5?

Read on for everything you need to know about the real-life relationship between Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

When did Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson meet?

Sarah, Duchess Of York With Prince Andrew, Duke Of York in 1987
Sarah, Duchess Of York With Prince Andrew, Duke Of York in 1987. John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images

It's been reported that Prince Andrew's very first meeting with Sarah Ferguson was actually when the pair were children. Ferguson's father was a former military captain, who served as polo manager to Prince Philip. It was during this time that the Prince and Sarah reportedly played tag in the polo fields.

Their meeting again as adults was reportedly down to the involvement of Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana and Sarah were in fact childhood friends themselves, and reconnected in 1980. Diana then invited Sarah to her wedding to Charles which took place in 1981, after which Sarah became a member of her inner circle.

In 1985, Diana reportedly recommended that Sarah be invited to an event at Windsor Castle, which was where she went on to reconnect Prince Andrew.

The pair's relationship moved quickly, with Ferguson reportedly forming positive relationships with both the Queen and Prince Philip.

When did the couple get married?

Less than a year after they formally started dating Andrew proposed to Sarah on his 26th birthday, 19th February 1986.

Their engagement was publicly announced on 19th March that year, and the couple went on to marry at Westminster Abbey, 23rd July 1986. It was on this day that the Queen gave them the titles of Duke and Duchess of York.

Sarah, Duchess of York, and Prince Andrew, Duke of York in 1986
Sarah, Duchess of York, and Prince Andrew, Duke of York in 1986. Derek Hudson/Getty Images

Two years later, in 1988, the couple had their first child, their daughter Beatrice. Eugenie, their second daughter, was born in 1990.

However, the relationship broke down quickly, in part reportedly because of Prince Andrew's naval career keeping him away from home for long stretches at a time. Hello! reported that the couple saw one another for just 40 days per year for the first five years of their marriage.

When did Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson get divorced?

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson officially separated in early 1992. Following this, later that year, Ferguson was involved in a public scandal, as the Daily Mirror published photographs of American financial manager John Bryan kissing Sarah's toes as she sunbathed topless in St Tropez.

The couple later divorced in 1996, with Sarah reportedly having grown estranged from the family following her scandal.

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and Prince Andrew, Duke of York in 2019
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and Prince Andrew, Duke of York in 2019. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

However, in the following years, relationships between Sarah and members of the Royal family became more positive. She was invited to Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018, and that same year was seen in the Royal Box at Ascot with the Queen.

She attended Queen Elizabeth's state funeral earlier this year.

What has James Murray said about playing Andrew in The Crown?

James Murray as Prince Andrew, Duke of York in The Crown season 5
James Murray as Prince Andrew, Duke of York in The Crown season 5 Netflix/Keith Bernstein

James Murray plays Andrew in The Crown season 5, and he recently spoke about the research he undertook for the role.

He said: "I delved deep because there’s not that much, bizarrely, on Andrew. Either he kept himself private or people weren’t as interested in him as perhaps they were in Charles or Anne. Once things fell apart with Sarah Ferguson and he became 'Randy Andy' the Palace press agency probably advised him to keep quiet."

Murray also teased Andrew's "narrative arc" for season 5, saying: "His divorce from Sarah Ferguson is the main story for him this season. It’s not going great, and he’s got an eye for others.

"What's lovely in the way Peter [Morgan] wrote it was that yes, he asked the Queen for a divorce, but it wasn't necessarily for the reasons you might think – that she'd been photographed doing all sorts of things with other men. He asked because he felt like he had no choice, and because he knows it’s going to make the family look bad if he doesn’t.

"It also makes him look bad, but he really loves Fergie and has forgiven her. It’s not like, 'Oh, she’s cheated on me, so she’s gone.' But he knows it can’t continue because he belongs to this bizarre family where something like that would never work."

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Murray also said he's learnt "how quick people are to judge" since taking on the role.

"It’s difficult, because a lot of opinions about Andrew in recent years have rightfully been negative, so people will turn any ambiguous story into a negative one if they’ve decided somebody is a wrong 'un."

The Duke of York has hit the headlines in recent years, with his military titles and royal patronages stripped from him in February after being accused of sexual assault in a US case.

In March, Prince Andrew paid a settlement to Virginia Giuffre, who alleged that the royal sexually assaulted her when she was 17, formally ending the case.

The Crown season 5 will be released on Netflix on Wednesday 9th November 2022, while seasons 1-4 are available now. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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