Sarah Ferguson Shares How Breast Cancer Diagnosis Stopped Her from Comparing Herself to Princess Diana

“When I look back, okay, I've got good legs, but I didn't like myself and that was because, I think, I was always compared to Diana," the Duchess of York shared

<p>Jo Hale/WireImage; Anwar Hussein/WireImage</p> Sarah Ferguson in 2023; Princess Diana in 1986.

Jo Hale/WireImage; Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Sarah Ferguson in 2023; Princess Diana in 1986.

Sarah Ferguson says her health scare led her to let go of comparisons to Princess Diana.

The Duchess of York, 63, opened up about releasing the expectation on the latest episode of her podcast Tea Talks with the Duchess and Sarah.

In the emotional episode, which debuted on Wednesday (the day before the 26th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death), the Duchess of York said the silver lining of her breast cancer diagnosis and successful mastectomy was finding peace to be kinder to herself. A representative for the Duchess of York, who is popularly known as Fergie, told PEOPLE in June that she was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer at a routine screening and underwent surgery. Fergie has kept fans updated through the summer about her recovery.

Exploring the theme of luck on Tea Talks, Fergie spoke about “how lucky” she was and how the diagnosis helped her stop being so hard on herself, as she “was always compared to Diana.” Fergie and the late Princess of Wales both married into the royal family in the 1980s when they tied the knot with Queen Elizabeth’s sons.

Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty

Related: Sarah Ferguson Reveals Queen Elizabeth's Last Words to Her Before the Monarch's Death

Both women were under the spotlight during their respective marriages — Diana to then-Prince Charles and Fergie to Prince Andrew (whom Diana introduced.) The Duke and Duchess of York later divorced in 1996 after a decade of marriage, while Diana and Charles officially split in 1996, a year before she died in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997.

“There are extraordinary moments... even what this mastectomy has done for me. Does it take to have something cut off, a body part cut off, in order for you to wake up? Not because of seeing death, but waking up to stop worrying, stop self-hatred, stop self-doubt, stop not liking yourself,” Fergie said on Tea Talks. “Does it take that? Honestly I think it was so lucky.”

“When I look back, okay, I've got good legs, but I didn't like myself and that was because, I think, I was always compared to Diana. And I think that at the end, I sort of believed my own press which is, you know, not too good, right?” she continued. “So that's interesting, I think. I’m very lucky that my sister sent me to have the mammogram and they found it in time — I’m very, very lucky. The greatest luck of my life has been to have a wonderful sister.”

Elsewhere in the episode, which doubled as the concluding chat for season one of Tea Talks, the Duchess of York revealed Queen Elizabeth’s last words to her before her death. While Fergie did not disclose when the conversation happened, Queen Elizabeth died at age 96 on Sept. 8, 2022, hours after her doctors announced they were “concerned” for her health.

"It's the last thing that the Queen said to me: 'Just be yourself, Sarah,' ” Fergie said. "And she saw it. She just got so annoyed when I wasn’t being myself. And that’s probably when I got into all the pickles. But now I am myself, and I’m just so lucky to be able to be myself.”

Queen Elizabeth died at Balmoral Castle last year, her beloved royal residence in the Scottish Highlands where she traditionally retreated for a private vacation each August. Members of her family would convene at the castle to spend time together, and the tradition continues with King Charles’ reign.

Related: Sarah Ferguson Shares 'Cinderella' Story of Her Royal Wedding Day: 'I Had That Moment'

David Levenson/Getty Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew and Queen Elizabeth in 1986.
David Levenson/Getty Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew and Queen Elizabeth in 1986.

On Sunday, Prince Andrew was photographed driving to church near Balmoral with Kate Middleton and Prince William. King Charles, Queen Camilla, Princess Anne, Sir Timothy Laurence, Prince Edward and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh were also spotted heading to Craithe Kirk church, a sure sign of a stay at Balmoral.

Though he traveled to church with the Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince Andrew is no longer a working royal. The Duke of York stepped back from public duties when his affiliation with Jeffrey Epstein, who died in 2019 while awaiting federal sex trafficking charges, came to light.

<p>Peter Jolly Northpix/Shutterstock </p> Prince Andrew and Kate Middleton drive to church on August 27, 2023

Peter Jolly Northpix/Shutterstock

Prince Andrew and Kate Middleton drive to church on August 27, 2023

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In January 2022, the day after a judge rejected Prince Andrew's attempt to have Virginia Giuffre's sexual assault lawsuit against him dismissed, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth had stripped her son of his military titles and patronages. The Duke of York would no longer undertake public engagements as a working royal or use the "His Royal Highness" styling.

Prince Andrew has denied any wrongdoing and settled with Giuffre out of court in February 2022. Some of his former military appointments were recently redistributed to other members of the royal family, including Kate and Sophie.

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