The Duchess of York first created her Budgie the Helicopter children’s books in the 1990s, as she battled a string of scandals and mounting debts.
So it is perhaps timely that she has decided to resurrect the character 24 years on, as her former husband, the Duke of York, finds himself engulfed in his own controversy, concerning his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
As she announced two new children’s books on Thursday, Sarah Ferguson had a prescient message for young readers: “No matter who you are or whatever you’re facing in life, never give up.”
She added: Budgie can be a naughty little helicopter sometimes but he is an inherently good character who always wants to do his best. It’s about old-fashioned integrity and goodness no matter what.”
The Duchess’s words could be interpreted as a coded message about the Duke, who she still lives with and has loyally championed in recent months.
Ousted from official royal duties, he is still paying the price for last year’s disastrous Newsnight interview, as allegations that he slept with a trafficked teenager continue to dog him despite vehement denials.
Determined to plough on in the face of adversity, the Duchess announced the books, the second of which is called A Gift of Kindness, as she was named global ambassador of the Kindness Research Foundation.
Budgie the Helicopter
She was said to be “thrilled” that her best known character, Budgie the Little Helicopter, is to take flight again.
Budgie was one of the Duchess’s first series of children’s books, published in the 1990s as she sought to settle mounting debts.
It was an unexpected hit, spawning cartoon spin offs and fairground rides.
The last Budgie title was published 24 years ago and the Duchess is hoping that older readers who grew up with the stories will now share her latest title, Budgie the Little Helicopter rescues Kubbie the Koala, which is set in Australia, with the next generation.
She said: “I always like to set stories in countries that have been good to me. I decided Budgie should go to Australia to honour my sister Jane, who has lived there for 40 years. I have visited many, many times and I love Australia very much.
“My daughter Eugenie went there for a gap year – after the terrible bushfires, there were two koalas at the Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park, which she had visited, named after her and her husband Jack. I also care deeply about the environment so I wanted the new book to have a strong environmental message.”