At Last Sarah Gets the Ring;The Palace Announces Andrew's Engagement

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By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, March 20, 1986; 10:23 AM

LONDON, March 19, 1986 -- Britain clasped its hands together and gave a collective coo of approval today as Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth's second son and long considered one of the world's most eligible bachelors, to Sarah Ferguson, a 26-year-old blue-blooded commoner.

Andrew, also 26, and his bride-to-be appeared together for photographers in the palace gardens and in a televised interview shortly after word of their betrothal officially was released at 11 a.m. They said they were "over the moon" with happiness.

Although he cautioned that conflicting royal schedules may delay the wedding until fall, Andrew said they hoped it would take place in July or August at Westminster Abbey, where his parents were married in 1947 and his sister, Anne, in 1973. The last royal wedding, joining his elder brother and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, and Diana Spencer in 1981, was held in the much larger St. Paul's Cathedral in what was considered somewhat of a break with tradition.

Sarah said she wanted the wedding sooner, rather than later. Displaying an informal and outspoken style that commentators here labeled "refreshing," she interrupted Andrew's somewhat halting explanation of their uncertain timing to tell an interviewer she wanted to "get on with it."

As she kissed her fiance' for the cameras, Sarah showed off a large diamond and ruby engagement ring, which she noted matched her flaming red hair. She said she intended to keep her job at a London graphic arts company after her marriage, when she will be known as "Her Royal Highness the Princess Andrew."

Hundreds of people had gathered outside Buckingham Palace this morning to await the long-anticipated announcement. It came in a one-sentence letter on the queen's stationery, in which she said she and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, were "greatly pleased." Copies were unceremoniously handed out at the palace gate by a royal staff member.


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