Sarah Ferguson is sympathizing with Meghan Markle.
In a new interview with Vogue Arabia, the 60-year-old royal says she definitely knows what it feels like to be negatively scrutinized so heavily in the media as Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, have spoken out against. Ferguson -- who was formerly married to Prince Andrew -- memorably made headlines throughout their marriage and even after they separated in 1992 for everything from her weight, to her estrangement from the royal family.
"I know what Meghan is going through," Ferguson tells the magazine. "It must be hard for Meghan, and I can relate to her. I believe she is modern and fabulous. She was famous before. She is great. Why can't Meghan be great? Why can't she be celebrated?"
"Any advice for her? I tend not to give advice because it is taken out of context, but I have been in Meghan's shoes, and I still am," she continues. "There's always a twist of negativity and it just gets so sad and tiring; it's hard and mean. I abhor bullying and I feel desperately sorry for the pain they must be going through because I've been through it."
She later admits that she didn't handle the scrutiny in a positive way.
"I eventually self-sabotaged," she recalls. "I didn't think of the ramifications of my actions. I was at the bottom of the barrel. It was almost as if I wanted to be unlovable. But when I was at the bottom I wrote the book, Finding Sarah."
When the magazine notes that Ferguson did bring "fun" to the British monarchy, the Duchess of York also credits the late Princess Diana.
"Oh, I brought modern etiquette and fun, with Diana, Princess of Wales," she says. "Me and Diana had the best time. We really did, no question. I loved her with all my heart."
These days, she is fiercely protective of her family, particularly her two daughters with Prince Andrew, 31-year-old Princess Beatrice and 29-year-old Princess Eugenie.
"They say that unless they are perfect, it's front page news, and that's hard," she says. "I used to say to anyone who came to see them, 'Do not bring your problems to my girls. It's not their problem.' Leave the problems at the door, along with your ego. Why should they be persecuted?"
Meanwhile, on Oct. 1, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they were pursuing legal action against Associated Newspapers -- owners of the Daily Mail, MailOnline, Metro and more -- after the Mail on Sunday published a private, handwritten letter that Markle wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
"Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences -- a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," Harry said in an official statement. "There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face -- as so many of you can relate to -- I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been."
In October, Markle opened up about struggling with all the media scrutiny in an interview for the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey.
"It's hard. I don't think anybody could understand that, but in all fairness, I had no idea," she said. "When I first met my now-husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy, but my British friends said to me, 'I'm sure he's great, but you shouldn't do it, because the British tabloids will destroy your life.'"
Markle explained that, for the most part, she's "really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip," but that it's been draining and difficult to maintain.
"I tried, I really tried, but I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging," she shared. "The biggest thing I know is that I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair, and that's the part that's really hard to reconcile."
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