Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, used to put daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie out "in the freezing cold" to teach them empathy.

The Duchess of York had lessons for her daughters

The Duchess of York had lessons for her daughters

The 64-year-old author was keen for her children - who she has with ex-husband Prince Andrew - to show compassion and understand charity from a young age, so whenever they would "complain and moan" about something, she'd show how there were people in far worse circumstances.

She told Britain's HELLO! magazine: "They were born to learn about charity, they were born to give.

"[As children], if they were complaining and moaning, I'd put them outside in the freezing cold… then they would complain and moan, and I'd say, 'Well, imagine what it's like if you're in the middle of nowhere with no coat and never can get a coat'. They soon stopped moaning.

“It was probably moaning at something like, 'Why are we watching Barbie and not watching something else', nothing serious."

When Beatrice, now 35, and Eugenie, 34, each turned 18, their mother took them to a unit run by the Teenage Cancer Trust.

She explained: "I wanted to teach them how to take the hand of a person who's dying."

Sarah was on a visit to orphaned Ukrainian children living with Jewish charity Tikva in Romania and she explained how she identifies with the plight of refugees after her world was turned upside down as a child when her mother, Susan Barrantes, walked out on their family to live in Argentina with polo player Hector Barrantes.

She said: “None of us can know what it’s like to have to leave the life you’ve had with your belongings in a plastic bag and start a new life as a refugee, depending on the support of others.

“I have worked with displaced people for over 30 years, starting with the Bosnian War in 1992.

“I came to the Ukrainian border three times last year with my charity Sarah’s Trust, bringing items of aid. I’m constantly humbled by the bravery, love and determination that I encounter among refugee communities.

"And while I would obviously never compare myself to anyone in that situation, I feel I have a tiny sliver of understanding of what it’s like to lose your world, my mother having left the family when I was 11.”