The famous faces present for the funeral of Lisa Marie Presley were easily explained — actor Austin Butler, Guns N’ Roses vocalist Axl Rose, and Alanis Morisette all had obvious connections with the late daughter of Elvis.
But one name took many by surprise: Sarah, the Duchess of York. There were yet more raised eyebrows when Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson strolled up to the podium and gave an emotional speech.
Ferguson, 63, revealed she’d had a close friendship akin to the sort of bond siblings share — and that the pair called each other “sissie”.
“We need to stoke our flames within to celebrate extraordinary Lisa Marie. I stand here with great honour because we called each other Sissie. I’ve been here with you all for all your lives and I stand here with great honour. So, Sissie, this is for you with affection,” said the duchess.
Finally, she ended on a quote from Queen Elizabeth: “My late mother-in-law used to say that nothing can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments because grief is the price we pay for love — and how right she was.” The quote was first uttered by the late Queen in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks in 2001, as she expressed support for the people of America.
So how did this unlikely friendship between Sarah Ferguson and Lisa Marie Presley form?
Rock ’n’ roll royalty met real royalty in 2009, during a trip Ferguson had taken to the US. The duchess was making an effort to break into movie producing and was promoting her new film, The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend, which may explain her presence in the US. The two became fast friends and remained so throughout a tumultuous 2009. Presley was rocked by personal tragedy following the death of her ex-husband, Michael Jackson, and leaned on Ferguson for support. Fergie, in turn, offered up her Marbella mansion for Presley to privately grieve.
Things took a peculiar twist when Presley moved to England in 2010 to live with her new husband, American guitarist Michael Lockwood (the pair married in 2006 and remained married until 2021 — they share twins, Finley and Harper Lockwood ). Presley and Lockwood set up home in a £9 million house in Rotherfield, East Sussex, where Presley got a job at a local fish and chip van in the village called Mr Chippy.
According to reports at the time, the owner of Mr Chippy, Kim Scales, said: “It was when she first moved to the village about two years ago. She is really interested in who people are and wanted to know all about our lives and how we live.
“We own the pub and a mobile fish and chip van, but she said she'd never heard of anything like it, and said she wanted to work on it. She got on there with her son, but we were all laughing because not one of the locals realised who it was.”
Presley eventually moved back to the US in 2016 — yet this didn’t break Presley’s bond with Fergie. Yesterday, a friend of the duchess told Entertainment Tonight: “The two hit it off from the beginning. They grew close and kept in touch even when Lisa Marie moved back to the United States.”
The friend also shared that Presley was “one of the few people who reached out to [Ferguson] during some of her difficult times,” and that Fergie, in turn, thought of the late singer as “family”.
Now Ferguson’s presence at the funeral makes sense. She responded to Presley’s death before the funeral, telling Page Six: “I think she’s with [her late son] Ben now,” noting that she believes Presley died of a broken heart following Ben’s death in 2020.
She added: “I think we need to make sure Finley, Riley, and Harper are fully supported going forward. She was so proud of them, so proud. She used to write to me saying, ‘Yeah, I’m really gushing at how wonderful my children are right now.’”