The Duchess of York, 63, took to her Instagram Story on Monday to pay tribute to victims of the September 11 attacks, 22 years after the tragedy occured. On 11 September 2001, hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, while another crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought back against hijackers, killing nearly 3,000 people in total.
In her Instagram Story, Ferguson recalled how she initially planned to be the World Trade Center for work, during the morning of the terrorist attacks, but didn’t end up going in.
“My charity, Chances for Children, was located on the World Trade Centre N Tower,” she wrote. “I was meant to be there that morning 22 years ago but an interview ran late.”
Her post went on to include a photo of two firefighters in the buildings, after the terrorist attacks. The image also showcased that her rag doll – which she created for her charity – was also found amidst the rubble.
“The Little Red doll, the charity’s mascot, was found in the rubble,” she wrote. “Today I am thinking of those who lost their lives.”
As noted by the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the doll was found by Brian Van Flandern, an emergency medical technician. The morning after 9/11, “he noticed a doll in the rubble and searched in vain for a survivor or victim nearby”, before later learning that toy was a mascot for the Chances for Children charity, “which had offices on the 101st floor of the North Tower”.
In her Instagram Story, Ferguson went on to reflect on how the doll was found, as well as the tragedy that occured 22 years ago.
“The original Little Red is in the Ground Zero museum,” she continued. “We remember today & always. I want to send the families love and strength.”
She concluded her post by sharing an old snap from inside the World Trade Center, which included herself and her daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. She also praised the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, for how he’s continued to remember the tragedy, as his employees were among victims of the terrorist attacks.
“Thank you to the Lutnick family, who are there today & each year, showing devotion to the families affected by 9/11,” she wrote. “@howardlutnick, you lost your brother and 658 of 960 Cantor Fitzgerald employees. You have not forgotten, showing unwavering resilience and support to everyone around you.”
Lutnick himself was not in the office on the morning of 9/11, as he was dropping his son off to his first day of kindergarten, as noted by PIX 11. After the tragedy, he went on to help raise $180m for relatives of Cantor Fitzgerald’s employees who were affected by 9/11.
This isn’t the first time that Ferguson, who was previously married to Prince Andrew, has opened up about where she was on 11 September, 2001. Shortly after the attacks happened, a spokesperson for Ferguson described the duchess as “desperately upset”.
“The Duchess of York is desperately upset for everyone involved in this terrible tragedy,” her spokesperson said, according to ABC News. “It is unbelievable, she was just a few minutes away when the explosion took place.”
In 2019, she reflected on the impact of her experience, telling Hello! that the close encounter with the attacks changed her outlook on life.
“I take every minute as a blessing, I really do, and I really work hard at it. Because the minute you look too far forward, then you’re missing now. The minute you look back… you can’t go back. Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” she said.
The duchess also reflected on how meaningful it was when Little Red was found in the building, following the attacks.
“From 101 floors Little Red came down in her dress, a little tiny rag doll, and she was found in the rubble. And CNN filmed it and said: ‘Oh a child’s doll,” and Larry King said: ‘No, that’s Little Red, and she stands for children’s rights all over the world.’ From Little Red, I’ve gone on to build a lot of schools and taught many teachers,” she continued.