Local News

Duchess of York Comes to Raleigh

Posted September 25, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Royalty visited Raleigh on Tuesday. Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, was in town as part of her Atlantic crossing -- turning bad British publicity into American success.

Ferguson acts as a spokeswoman for Wedgwood China. She autographed the company's wares Tuesday at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh.

The duchess has broken new ground for British royalty. She lends her name not only to charities, but also to products, saying she chooses her opportunities carefully.

"When I speak about something, it's from my heart," she says. "I speak with my heart, because it's something I like, or I use, or I support."

Her candor is a big hit with the American crowd, but she admits it does not always go over as well back home.

"I will say a big thank you, because if it wasn't for you all, I wouldn't have an ounce of confidence to get up here on this stage," Ferguson told Tuesday's crowd. "The British press, as you know, has just torn me apart for 10 years."

Her break with the royal family and her history of "un-royal" behavior may be part of what endears her to American audiences.

"I think she's a great lady," says John Brink, one of Ferguson's fans. "She's done a lot of great things, and you have to forget about the other things."

"I greatly admire Sarah Ferguson," says Sunny Newton. "She's done very well, and she's a good example for these girls as far as landing on her feet and her vibrancy."

In addition to her work as a spokeswoman for charities and products, the duchess is an author -- her biography was a best seller. She also holds a private helicopter pilot's license.