Getting to know Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
Stricker: Is being a Duchess like you imagined it would be?
Ferguson: I was very honored and privileged to receive this title from Her Majesty when I married Prince Andrew. I could not have imagined how being a Duchess would change my life and truly there is no way to train for such a position as you might for any other important job. I have great respect for this gift and I do my very best to help others through what it has enabled me to learn and do.
Stricker: Did you want to be a Duchess since you were little?
Ferguson: No. Many girls I grew up with dreamed of being a princess but I adored horses so I always wanted to be a prize jumper. Indeed I spent much of my youth competing (on horseback) but in the end my life has taken me in so many other exciting directions that I'm don't feel too badly that I did not become a professional jumper.
Stricker: What is your favorite book now and when you were little?
Ferguson: When I was very little I loved Braer Rabbit. I really liked mysteries and adventure books such as Nancy Drew.
Stricker: Have you read the Harry Potter books?
Ferguson: Yes, as have my two girls. You can only imagine how very excited we were to attend the movie's premier in London last year. I think the books are wonderfully imaginative and the film was quite thrilling and true to the story it was based on.
Stricker: What is your favorite website?
Ferguson: I don't have a particular site because I don't really spend much time on the Internet. Call me old-fashioned but I much prefer writing notes or making phone calls to sending emails, which I find impersonal. I think it is wonderful that we can access so much information on the web, however, and thankfully my assistant goes online for me when I need to research a subject.
Stricker: What one thing that you do that makes you successful?
Ferguson: I am very determined and I stick to doing work that I truly believe in. I'm very passionate by nature and that comes through in what I do. I am terrible at faking anything so I don't even try. Truth is my guide in life and that has helped me to succeed personally as well as professionally. I never take success for granted, however. I expect to work throughout my entire life because I have a lot of energy and because I am so curious about people and places around the world. To me success is about feeling happy and fulfilled inside and not so much about making money or being famous.
Stricker: Could you tell me about Children in Crisis and Chances for Children?
Ferguson: I created both of these charities because I care a great deal about children who are ill or forgotten. Children in Crisis is based in London and Chances for Children is based in New York. Both organizations raise money with the intent to give it away to qualified aid workers who help children who are in urgent need.
I am proud of the fact that Children in Crisis has been working in Afghanistan for the past five year, for example, where we've been funding home schools for boys and girls who otherwise would not be educated. Today we are active as ever there and in other countries and I think we are making a difference in many lives.
I created Chances for Children especially for American kids because I wanted to give something special back to your country, which has been so good to me. It's a smaller organization than Children in Crisis but we still do a good job at helping children who otherwise might not be helped. I will always be proud of the good work we did in Oklahoma City after a terrible bombing a number of years ago left many boys and girls badly in need of help. I am looking forward to returning to that city later this year to see how everybody is doing.
Sadly our Chances for Children offices had been based on the 101st floor of Tower One at the World Trade Center in New York City, which of course was destroyed on September 11. My staff had not arrived to work when the tragedy occurred that day so they were safe but so many of our friends in the surrounding offices at the company Cantor Fitzgerald (which gave us our office space for free) died. We've since moved into new offices in Manhattan and in the memory of all who were killed on 9-11 we remain very committed to carrying on the charity's work in the US.
Stricker: Are you still writing children's books?
Ferguson: I am delighted you ask because indeed I am very busy on a new book series about the adventures of Little Red, the rag doll I designed years ago for the logo for Chances for Children. I take Little Red with me all over the world and my stories will be about what she's seen and learned along the way. I believe we'll publish the first book in the spring of 2003.
Stricker: What are your hobbies?
Ferguson: I love to take photographs of people and landscapes and I also enjoy watercolor painting and writing poetry. As far as sports are concerned I love horseback riding and skiing. And I love being with my girls on weekends and during their school breaks.
Stricker: What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?
Ferguson: We all love to sit down and color together. My girls are not so little now- Beatrice is 13 and Eugenie is 12 - but we still find this activity fun - a bit silly at times - and very relaxing. We spend a lot of time together being active outdoors.
Stricker: How do you like San Diego?
Ferguson: I adore San Diego because I really enjoy California and also because I admire the fact that the city is such an important naval port. I myself was a naval wife when I was married to Prince Andrew, so I appreciate how wonderful it must be for naval families to be stationed in a place as warm and sunny as San Diego. I think the people of San Diego are quite interesting and very friendly, too.