Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s first home was ‘not visually appealing’

Prince Andrew and his former wife Sarah Ferguson tied the knot on July 23, 1986, in Westminster Abbey. The Duke and Duchess of York raised their two daughters Beatrice and Eugenie in a newly built royal property called Sunninghill Park in Ascot.

This property was the first home built for a royal during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II in the late 1980s, and Fergie and Andrew moved there in 1990.

The Duke of York lived there until 2004, but the house no longer exists due to being demolished in the year 2016. Property experts spoke exclusively to about the rather unknown royal home.

Interior Designer Kunal Trehan, the Design Director at Touched Interiors said: “Being a popular royal couple at the time, a new build would allow Andrew and Sarah to take control over the aesthetics, facilities and their fundamental privacy and security.

“A lot of the older royal residences albeit stunning in exterior appearance and grandeur, are sometimes impractical for modern living so residing in a new build can become increasingly appealing especially when planning to extend the family and who would not want to add a swimming pool and tennis court to the wish list if they could.”

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Sunninghill Park has often been critiqued for its looks on the outside, which Mr Trehan expanded on.

He commented: “Sir James Dunbar-Nasmith who designed the Balmoral estate also designed Sunninghill Park which is set within a walled five acres forming a part of a greater 665-acre estate.

“Although you would expect nothing but praise from an impressive two-storey red brick country house boasting six reception rooms, 12 bedrooms and bathrooms, this has unfortunately not always been the case.

“The house has often divided opinion with it being dubbed ‘South York’, a play on South Fork ranch featured on the American soap Dallas and also being compared to a Tesco supermarket.

“Personally, I think the practicality of this home being suitable for a Royal Family took precedent and that did reflect adversely on the potential of achieving a greater aesthetic.

“If this house had larger windows which were obviously made smaller for privacy reasons, then I feel architecturally the home would have been a lot more striking. I feel the single-toned earthy materials finalised enhance the feeling of the house being dreary and dark and with some considered contrasting changes, the overall look could have been elevated to new levels.”

Sylvia James at Home How added: “It was a tradition that members of the Royal Family were given a home as a wedding gift from the Queen. It may be that as the Queen’s alleged favourite child, Prince Andrew was allowed to create a new royal residence at Sunninghill Estate.

“To be fair the style of the house was probably in keeping with architectural and popular styles of the time. Having said that it was not a particularly attractive property and certainly didn’t look typically ‘royal’. 

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“Sarah Ferguson was often criticised in the press for her fashion sense, particularly when compared to Princess Diana who was a fashion icon. Prince Andrew has also been accused of poor decision-making. Perhaps as a couple, they could have made a better choice of house style.”

Property expert Sophie Smith from Zhoosh Paints exclusively told “Sunninghill Park was built for Fergie and Andrew as newlyweds. This was a break from the norm as the Queen’s children did tend to get gifted historic, older homes upon getting married.

“The style of the home was not terribly popular with local residents – being described as ‘grotesque’ and ‘tacky’. A sprawling 12-bedroom property, it featured a lot of pine and marble, which were very popular at the time and can still work very well in some spaces.

“Perhaps they wanted a home that was unique to them from the start, to reflect their personalities. It was certainly bespoke, it apparently included lots of monograms and even featured a musical toilet roll holder!

“These are clearly not the tastes of all newlyweds, but modern homes built from a plan are very popular for those with bigger budgets as they offer a new, truly personal place that can deliver a feeling of security and sanctuary.

“And modern styles are very popular as they can provide a clean base from which to decorate, often giving lots of light so proving suitable for darker colours or brighter shades.”

Property specialist Paul Gibbens claimed: “From pictures, Sunninghill Park does look rather box-like and bland compared to regal royal residences. The architecture is fairly basic.

“However, at the time it was built, the interiors were likely luxurious and state-of-the-art. The location in Berkshire is beautiful as well. So while not the most visually appealing, it probably served Andrew and Sarah’s needs well as a private family home.”

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