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Saturday, October 16, 1999 Published at 04:08 GMT 05:08 UK


Charles abandoned me - Fergie

Holding her children close, the duchess arrives at the abbey

The Duchess of York has accused the Prince of Wales of abandoning her after years of friendship.

In a newspaper interview to coincide with her 40th birthday, which fell on Friday, she said she had not spoken to her brother-in-law for more than a year and was banned from seeing Prince William and Prince Harry.

[ image: Prince Charles:
Prince Charles: "Why does he have to be so cruel?"
The Duchess told The Times: "The Duke of Edinburgh does not need me. The Prince of Wales does not need me. They think I'm pointless, therefore why should they make the effort?"

She said she felt "desperately" hurt when she was excluded from the wedding of the Earl of Wessex in the summer and could not understood why she was being continually shunned.

The Duchess said she had known Prince Charles and his companion, Camilla Parker Bowles, all her life and could not understand why they were being so "cruel" towards her.

'What about forgiveness?'

She said: "Why now - do they have to be so cruel? I really, actually, don't understand because I adored Charles.

"We used to have fun. And what about kindness? Forgiveness?

"If I think about it I get terribly sad, and though I must not worry about other people's opinions, I do mind about missing Charles. And I do miss him."

The Duchess fell out of favour at Buckingham Palace after a number of embarrassing episodes, such as the infamous "toe-sucking" debacle with her former financial adviser Johnny Bryan.

She believes certain palace courtiers had "poisoned" Charles's mind towards her.

But she said the Duke of York had stood up for her in family quarrels and she hinted at the idea of remarrying him.

The Duchess, who has two daughters by Prince Andrew, said she would like another baby. Last year she moved in with the duke, who she divorced in 1996.

Unhappy birthday

The former Sarah Ferguson spent her 40th birthday remembering her best friend, Carolyn Cotterell, at a funeral service near Hereford.

[ image: It was a tearful day for the duchess and Princesses Beatrice, left, and Eugenie]
It was a tearful day for the duchess and Princesses Beatrice, left, and Eugenie
She joined more than 300 mourners at a Requiem Mass in Belmont Abbey, a few miles from the home of Mrs Cotterell, who died of cancer aged 43.

The duchess attended the service with her daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

Mrs Cotterell was Princess Beatrice's godmother, while the duchess is godmother to her 11-year-old daughter Poppy.

Following the service a tearful duchess, who was wearing a dark grey, knee-length suit and hat, walked slowly back to her car holding hands with her daughters.

Daughter's tribute

A private internment was held at the village of Byford near the Garnons estate where Mrs Cotterell lived in the grounds with Harry, her husband of 13 years.

The 3,000-acre estate is the family home of Sir John and Lady Cotterell.

The service, which was conducted by Father Michael Evans, included three hymns and a reading by Mrs Cotterell's father John Beckwith-Smith.

Mrs Cotterell and the duchess had been friends since childhood and shared a flat in Lavender Hill, north London, before they both married.

The duchess visited her friend regularly since she was diagnosed as having skin cancer 18 months ago.

Mrs Cotterell died at her home on Monday with her family around her.

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