While Fergie, Duchess of York, frets about dropping the pounds she gained while carrying her baby, Fergie’s father, Ronald, is fretting about being dropped from leadership of the snooty, exclusive Guards Polo Club. A member of the club since 1955 and its deputy chairman for the past 12 years, Major Ferguson, 56, fell out of favor with some fellow malleteers four months ago, when he was photographed coming out of the Wigmore Club, a London massage parlor. Since then he has been pilloried in the press, ridiculed at every turn and saddled with a sobriquet, “The Galloping Major.”
The parting shot was delivered when the Guards club recently demoted Ferguson to director of polo and failed to nominate him to the Hurlingham Polo Association, the game’s British ruling body. The major views the action of the club as something less than cricket and has flatly turned down the new job. “I feel very sad and extremely angry at the way the whole matter has been handled,” he said, adding that he’ll leave the group in late October. “If you had given half your life to running the Guards club, how would you feel?”
Anger the major and you anger his daughter. On the final day of the polo season, Fergie flew to London from Balmoral, Scotland, to hand out trophies, her first official engagement since Princess Beatrice’s birth. Giving out the prizes, she also gave the cold shoulder to the club chairman, Richard Watt, refusing to greet the man who she feels is responsible for her father’s disgrace.
Fergie wasn’t the major’s sole supporter. The club’s commentator, Peter Scowcroft, called Ferguson a true and loyal friend in a speech during the festivities, adding, “You have done more for polo than any other man.” Ralph Lauren might have taken exception, but the words moved the major and his daughter to tears.