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Interview with Sarah Ferguson

Aired April 28, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sarah Ferguson became an international household name when she married Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in 1986. Her frank and open demeanor made her a new brand of royalty and she became affectionately known as Fergie. But since her divorce from the Duke in 1996, Fergie has reinvented herself away from royal life.

In addition to her immense charitable works, she's also hosted her own show and written a series of children's books. She is often seen at functions around the world with her look-alike daughters, Princess Beatrice and Eugenie.

Today, the Duchess is working with the Oslo Freedom Forum to highlight the fight for human rights.

THOR HALVORSSEN, FOUNDER, OSLO FREEDOM FORUM: What we're trying to do is to both recalibrate the human rights arena so that it is not about bureaucrats getting together or talking about policy prescriptions, but rather the real fighters.

ANDERSON: Giving good causes the royal treatment, Sarah Ferguson is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: And I caught up with her recently and asked her just why she got involved with the Oslo Freedom Forum.

This is what she said.


SARAH FERGUSON, DUCHESS OF YORK: This is the Davos of human rights. And this is what we're aiming for. And we saw the enthusiasm of really generating the people and getting them all in the -- in the same place. And with my absolute passion that every -- as I said, every child has the right to speak and to be listened to and to have the embrace of a mother's love.

ANDERSON: Sarah, we've got a number of viewer questions.

Iris Mueller has written in to CNN. She says she greatly admires you for your charitable work, using your position in life to really make a difference for those less fortunate. On that note, she says: "Do you hope that your children and your kids might choose professions that will enable them to become self-sufficient members of society?"

FERGUSON: Yes. Well, I think that my girls have combated two adversities in their own lives. Beatrice had special needs at school and was very dyslexic and is now reading history at university. So she has a very good brain on her shoulders. And she leads from example. And Eugenie went through very strong scoliosis and has 12 inch metal rods down her back.

And I think both of them come from that place that, you know, they may be princesses, but they have a lot to give back and their sense of duty and responsibility and social responsibility to give back to the youth, which is, after all, the government's GNP if they just started to understand they need to spend more time on education.

ANDERSON: One from Rajesh Bhardwaj. She says: "How did such a laid back individual like yourself become a part of the royal family?"

FERGUSON: I fell in love. I fell in love with the queen's best looking son, no question about it. Whoever asks that, he is the best looking, I have to say that.


ANDERSON: Nobody heard that, I promise you.

FERGUSON: No, of course not.

ANDERSON: Let's talk a little bit more about the charity work.

FERGUSON: No, of course not.

ANDERSON: Yes. Mimi Yahs says: "What would it take for governments to have human rights on top of their list when legislating, do you think?

FERGUSON: I think that it will take groups like the Oslo Freedom Forum, the Davos of the future for human rights, to keep on talking. That's what I do. I just keep on talking. People say well, Fergie, what do you bring to the table?

I said, I bring awareness and a voice. And I don't stop talking, as you can -- as you can see. But if we don't go on talking and make governments accountable, then, you know, we've got to give governments solutions, not always problems, and then ask them to be accountable, like the Millennium Development Goals.

ANDERSON: BSmith has written in and he says: "You are such an inspiration for busy working moms and all. I'm interested," he says, "in knowing how did you find the time to raise such beautiful kids? And what kind of positive reinforcement do you give their daughters when they are feeling down or sort of out of it?"

FERGUSON: I believe the reason is because I still think of a -- as a teenager sometimes. I think parents and moms and dads, they forget, just because they're parents, they have to now suddenly forget to finger paint like a little child or be like a teenager and go a bit mad and go clubbing or whatever. And -- and then they can be -- so really it's -- like, for me, I'm Little Fergie, Teenaged Fergie and Mommy Fergie. And sometimes it's good to mix them up a bit.

And with my girls, the -- the number one rule is when I see them come -- when I used to see them coming back from school, if I felt their energy was slightly off, I'd go in the door, shut the door, turn the mobile telephone off, turn the television off and say let's talk. And they're -- they'll probably do the teenaged thing of uh, uh, no. I'm fine.

Well, I'd say fine is frustrated, insecure, neurotic and emotional. Fine is not a word.

So I'd go, have I done something to annoy you and upset you?

So you immediately self-deprecate onto yourself, thereby being more humble than them.

ANDERSON: Great. William Marlowe, the last question: "Excluding your kids," which is going to be the obvious answer, "do you think your greatest achievement is still in front of you yet to be achieved?"

FERGUSON: I am in the kindergarten of middle age. I'm 50 years old. I've just begun my life.


FERGUSON: I -- I'm still in diapers.

What are you talking about?

I mean it's so exciting. I mean to think that I'm answering all these questions without a script, without a worry, because it's from my heart. And I believe it's because I've done 25 years in public life. I have a total sense of duty. I have a sense that I -- of -- of absolute courage and support to Thor Halversson and what they're doing at the Oslo Freedom Forum. And the -- that every single time I stand up on the stage, I am fighting for the rights of a child.


ANDERSON: And you've been listening to Sarah Ferguson, or Fergie, as she is affectionately known, your Connector of the Day today.

None tomorrow. That's because we've got a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD when we analyze the third and final TV debate ahead of the U.K. election.

Friday, though, our Connector of the Day is a man credited with saving the lives of more than 1,000 refugees during the Rwandan genocide. The 2004 film, "Hotel Rwanda" is based on one man's story. So log on, find out who we're going to be talking to. Tell us where you're writing from and send in your questions.