Britain's Duchess of York gets university role linked to charity for women in India

by Nesserine Fellah | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 12:41 GMT

Sarah Ferguson, Britain's Duchess of York, arrives at a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York in this 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Image Caption and Rights Information

"She will be working with our students mainly in the fashion area and mainly with regards to the charity work she is involved with"

By Nesserine Fellah

LONDON, July 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain's Duchess of York has become the latest celebrity to receive a UK university post - named Visiting Professor of Philanthrepreneurship at Huddersfield University in northern England - following her charity work in India.

A university spokesman said Sarah Ferguson, ex-wife of Queen Elizabeth's second son Prince Andrew, was chosen to join the university's "inspiring group of visiting professors" due to her work with design and fashion students linked to charity work.

This was connected to Key to Freedom, a group set up in West Bengal, India, to run a platform for women victims of domestic abuse or sex trafficking to make and sell garments.

The spokesman said the title was honorary and the duchess would not be giving any lecturers in "philantrepreneurship" - a word that is not in the dictionary.

"She will be working with our students mainly in the fashion area and mainly with regards to the charity work she is involved with," the spokesman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Wednesday.

The duchess did not attend university herself. She left school at age 16 and took a secretarial course before working in PR and publishing, according to her biography "My Story".

The award comes after British universities in recent months gave visiting fellowships and professorships to actresses Angelina Jolie and Emma Watson, actor Benedict Cumberbatch and Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant.

The duchess, 56, whose marriage ended in scandal in 1996 and with huge debts, has pursued a variety of careers in the past 20 years including as a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers, a writer of children's books, and the founder and supporter of several children's charities.

(Editing by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.