And so a princess got married in a way that was apparently very private, yet curiously public. Guest-wise, we had a Geldof girl in a muumuu, Cara Delevingne in drag, and Kate Moss as the ghost of benders past. But, best of all was the bride's mother – gawky, gurning, gloriously herself – the artist forever known as Fergie in full Ferginian force.

And, lo, the nation spoke with one voice and it said: "Oh, Fergs, how we do adore thee," with even her former father-in-law prepared to be in the same room. For many of us, the emphasis was less on the nation's princess bride than on her mother, Queen Fergiana of York. It was her day; if only because it was one royal occasion at which she was actually at the heart.

Sarah, Duchess of York arrives for the wedding of Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank. Photo / Getty
Sarah, Duchess of York arrives for the wedding of Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank. Photo / Getty

One felt for her from the moment she banged her head while exiting the car. True to form, Fergs immediately raced over to press flesh with onlookers. Colleagues on the ground in Windsor tell me that there was a lot of love for her in the crowd, with much "ahhing" over her evident jitters and bursting maternal pride.

The duchess's outfit was spot on: green, her power colour, on-theme for both the bridesmaids' sashes and that fabulous emerald tiara sported by her daughter. She was clutching the bag her own mother carried to her wedding, while her winged straw hat was immediately satirised as a golden snitch from Harry Potter's quidditch game, providing just what we need from York millinery – memes.

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It was a classic Ferginian move to sport a hat and frock whose colours failed to quite match. Still, never mind. She was there. She got to stand on the steps with the others. And no one mentioned toe-sucking.

Well might she seem nervous, poor lamb. Not only has she been persona non grata among the Windsor posse following her various faux pas over the years, she now had to walk down the aisle in front of a packed congregation. She was supported in this by Princess Beatrice, reflecting the two sisters' closeness to their mother which is such that they nickname themselves 'the tripod'.

After this long march before the great and the good, the duchess sank into her seat, broke into a cartoon-style, puffed-out-cheeks sigh, then regaled us with a series of comedy "gah" faces, while executing tremulous little waves.

Doubtless, her nerves were exacerbated by the presence of Prince Philip, who has declined to share space with his former daughter-in-law for the past 20 years, in the wake of the Yorks' divorce, and the notorious scandals that preceded it. Plus sundry other occasions in which Fergie has found herself in the dog house.

It had been reported that he would wake up and see whether he felt up to attending, which is perfectly acceptable behaviour aged 97. However, given Her Majesty's adoration of the York girls, he did make it on the day, seated diagonally behind our luckless heroine, putting them on the same side for perhaps the first time ever. Prince Charles was nearer still. Will this prove the diplomatic thawing that the duchess desperately wishes for?

Those of us who number among her fans will hope as much. Weddings are an emotional moment for any parent; not least one who has been out in the cold for over two decades, despite her unusually warm relations with her children's father.

Were there memories of her own nuptials back in the mid-Eighties, when she was clean-slated, popular; her larkiness the great antidote to her friend dour Di? Back then it was she who was described as a "breath of fresh air". And it's true that Fergie did the emotional literacy thing long before it became the cause of the younger royals.

The brilliant Channel 4 satire, The Windsors, has made Fergie a cult figure: forever turning up fresh from some new misadventure, saluting her daughters with a fabulously throaty: "Hullo, girls". Today's appearance deserves an episode of its own.