The Duchess of York comforted the parents of a girl who died from a Pret a Manger sandwich when she was given a seat behind them as they flew the teenager’s body back to Britain.
Grieving Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse got on the same flight as Sarah Ferguson when they flew back from Nice following their daughter Natasha’s death on a flight out to France.
The Duchess said she could see Mrs Ednan-Laperouse was distressed and couldn’t help but try to console her.
After encouraging the couple to speak about Natasha’s life and passions, she gave Mrs Ednan-Laperouse a bracelet and vowed to continue supporting them.
Natasha, from Fulham, west London, collapsed on board a flight to Nice in 2016 after eating an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette she had bought from Pret in Heathrow Airport. The packaging did not say the sandwich contained sesame seeds, which she was allergic to.
Her mother told this week how the Duchess of York was on the same flight as them when they flew back with her coffin in the hold.
The Duchess, 58, told in an interview today that she spotted Mrs Ednan-Laperouse looking very unhappy as they waited to board the flight on which she was also booked.
When she got on the plane Fergie was sittting behind the couple and said she couldn’t help but speak to them.
She told the Evening Standard: ‘I said: “Is there anything I can do?” It was quite extraordinary. They wanted to start talking about Natasha.
‘Tanya, oh my gosh, my heart completely just went to her. She didn’t [get to]say goodbye to her daughter.
‘I didn’t really know how on earth I could help them, except by listening, which is sometimes enough. I said: “All I can do is always be here for you”.
‘As I left, I took one of my bracelets off and gave it to Tanya. She still wears it. I try to put myself in [other]people’s shoes, and I wouldn’t want to be Tanya and Nadim.’
They spoke about Natasha’s life, her love of flying and how she wanted to be a helicopter pilot, the Duchess said.
Fergie spoke about her time with the couple at an event to promote her charity Street Child, which helps vulnerable youngsters in Africa and Asia, last night.
It came after Mrs Ednan-Laperouse spoke about her conversations with the Duchess in a TV interview this week.
She said: ‘We had been allowed onto the flight first and were right at the front. Suddenly from behind someone grabbed my arm and said “Oh my goodness, I’ve heard what happened to you both and I’m so sorry”.
‘Then I saw this lovely red hair and realised it was Sarah Ferguson. She had seen us earlier in the lounge and had asked someone why we looked so sad.
‘She talked to us about Natasha all the way home. She was wonderful, just so lovely. She said she would support us all the way and in anything we decided to do.’
Earlier this week, Pret a Manger announced it is to introduce full ingredient labelling more than two years after the allergy-related death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.
The move follows demands for improved safety information from Natasha’s parents, who are lobbying for a change in the law to protect allergy sufferers.
The Duchess of York praised their ‘phenomenal courage’.