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Sarah Ferguson enjoyed a glamorous night out made fit for a duchess.
The Duchess of York was spotted Thursday night attending Dame Joan Collins’ 88th birthday and 20th wedding anniversary celebration at Claridges Hotel in London.
For her outing, the 62-year-old wore a sleek black gown with sheer sleeves and a sparkly belt. The mother of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie completed the ensemble with crystal drop earrings, a matching jewel-encrusted clutch and a simple watch with her signature red tresses in loose waves.
This was Ferguson’s first public outing in months and it came just days after her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, reached an out-of-court financial settlement with Virginia Epstein on Tuesday. Previously, Ferguson has attempted to keep a low profile.
The former couple was married from 1986 until 1996. In late 2021, Ferguson told French magazine Madame Figaro that she and Andrew have a close bond as co-parents.
“I loved him and I still love him today,” she said at the time. “I will stay by his side because I believe in him, he is a good man.”
The Duke of York, who was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl supplied to him by American financier Jeffrey Epstein, agreed to settle by making a substantial donation to his accuser’s charity and declaring he never meant to malign her character.
The deal avoids a trial that would have brought further embarrassment to the monarchy. Besides the undisclosed donation to Virginia Giuffre’s charity, it says Andrew acknowledges she has suffered as an abuse victim. It did not specify whether Giuffre would personally receive money as part of the settlement.
Giuffre, 38, sued Andrew in August. The American accused the British royal of sexually abusing her while she traveled with Epstein.
Andrew strenuously denied Giuffre’s allegations and attempted to get the lawsuit tossed earlier this year.
According to the statement, Andrew acknowledged that Epstein trafficked “countless young girls” over many years and said the prince “regrets his association with Epstein and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.” He also pledged to support the victims of sex trafficking as part of demonstrating his regret.
The 61-year-old — who had already stepped back from royal duties — was stripped of his honorary military titles and roles and leadership of various charities, known as royal patronages. He also can no longer use the title “his royal highness” in official settings. The decision was an effort to insulate the House of Windsor from the fallout from potentially years of sordid headlines if the lawsuit moved forward.
Giuffre asserted that she met Andrew while she traveled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002 when her lawyers maintain she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “lent out to other powerful men,” including Andrew.
Her lawsuit said she still suffers significant emotional and psychological distress and harm. She has alleged she had sex with Andrew three times: in London during a 2001 trip, at Epstein’s New York mansion when she was 17 and in the Virgin Islands when she was 18.
Andrew repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations and has said he can’t recall ever meeting her, although a photograph of Giuffre and Andrew together in a London townhouse, his arm around her bare midriff, was included in Giuffre’s lawsuit against him.
Inconsistencies in her statements over the years that would have been highlighted by Andrew’s attorneys at trial may have motivated her, in part, to settle, though she has explained them as innocent mistakes that occur when recalling traumatic events years later.
Andrew served in the Royal Navy for two decades, including as a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War. The honorary military roles he lost included several overseas ones, such as his title as colonel-in-chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.
He has spent years combating concerns about his links with Epstein, the U.S. financier who took his life at age 66 in 2019 in a Manhattan federal lockup while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges. Epstein’s longtime companion Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of related charges last month.
A settlement of the Andrew lawsuit would follow deals reached by Giuffre years ago to resolve separate lawsuits against Maxwell and Epstein. It was recently revealed that Epstein settled for $500,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.