Queen Elizabeth’s sister Princess Margaret is one royal that should not be brushed past. The late Countess of Snowdon passed away in 2002 but her life was certainly far from the ordinary. Princess Margaret followed her heart, no matter what her family said.
There Were Rumors About Margaret as a Baby
Being a member of the Royal Family meant that Margaret was thrust into the public eye from the day she was born.
Margaret was born a “Royal Highness.”
She Lived At the Royal Lodge in Windsor
Elizabeth II and Margaret’s lives were sheltered and they spent most of their time with their governess.
They had a very private childhood, learned to play musical instruments, took horseback riding lessons, spent a lot time with family, and focused on growing up as royals.
She Was Homeschooled to be a Proper Young Lady
Margaret and her sister Elizabeth II were taught at home by a Scottish governess named Marion Crawford, while Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother supervised. Queen Elizabeth focused on raising the girls to be proper and well-mannered.
Princess Margaret was desperate to go to school like other children and felt extremely resentful to her mother for not letting her attend with her peers. Queen Elizabeth later told a friend that she regretted not sending the girls to school.
Margaret’s Father Became King
In 1936, King Edward VIII was forced to abdicate the throne when he chose to marry a divorced American woman. Margaret’s father was the obvious choice to take the title of king.Then-named Prince Albert, Margaret’s father was hesitant about this.
There was some talk of his younger brother Prince George taking the throne since he had a son. But it was soon settled that Prince Albert would become King George VI.
She Was A Princess, But Her Sister Would Inherit the Throne
Margaret was only six years old when this happened, and it shook up the Royal family. Her immediate family, was thrown into the spotlight as her father became King, and her mother became Queen. Margaret and her sister would now live in Buckingham Palace, where Margaret said, “I have as much privacy as a goldfish in a bowl.”
Because her sister Elizabeth II was eldest, she would become Queen after her father. Upon birth, Princess Margaret was fourth in line to the British throne and would only become Queen in the rare event that Queen Elizabeth II would abdicate like their uncle, King Edward VIII.
She Was a Bohemian Princess
Margaret was a thrill seeker, and didn’t stick to the princess rule book, often doing things her own way. According to Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret, by Craig Brown, as a teenager, her mornings were spent eating breakfast in bed with the radio up full blast, cigarette in one hand, and the other reading the newspaper.
This would be followed by a luxurious bath, getting her hair and make-up done, and demanding a drink at 12:30 pm for a “pick-me-up.” She took to piano like a natural and was a born singer, who loved a good party.
She Fell in Love With Group Captain Peter Townsend
Princess Margaret went on to fall in love with Group Captain Peter Townsend. He was an officer in the Royal Air Force and worked close to the Royal Family. He was an equerry to both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II, which is how he met Margaret.
She was only 14-years-old at that time, and Townsend was also married with two sons. It was love at first sight, but their royal romance didn’t take off until eight years later when Townsend had divorced his wife and Princess Margaret was the ripe age of 22-years-old.
King George VI Dies, Elizabeth II Becomes Queen
In 1952, Margaret and Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, passed away after several years of battling illness. What did that mean then for the royal family? 25-year-old Elizabeth II would be step up and be crowned Queen. Elizabeth II’s coronation took place on June 2, 1953.
The ceremony in Westminster Abbey was the first to be televised, where Princess Margaret was spotted removing lint from Peter Townsend’s lapel at the ceremony, this of course sparked rumors that the two, had something going on, and of course because of the age gap it got people talking.
Marriage In The Family Once Again
A divorced man 16 years older than a 22 year old princess was not exactly the prim and proper picture that the world expected of a royal, It was extremely inappropriate for Peter Townsend to propose to Princess Margaret.
His divorced status made him unsuitable to be her husband, however he still proposed, and Princess Margaret eagerly accepted. However, she had to get permission from her sister, who was preparing to become the next Queen.
Their Engagement Was Controversial
Because Townsend was divorced, and his former wife was still alive, it was therefore forbidden for them to be married in the Church of England. Margaret asked her sister Elizabeth II for her permission to marry her love, but she was preparing to tour Commonwealth for her coronation and told Margaret that she must wait at least two years if she truly wanted to be his wife.
shortly after this, the couple broke off the engagement. Townsend then married a Belgian woman around eight years later, who ironically looked extremely similar to the princess.
“The Margaret Look”
Princess Margaret had more freedom in her fashion choices than her sister, and utilized this as she pushed the boundaries in her clothing. The world watched eagerly as Princess Margaret showed face in a plethora of bold outfits.
Her style became known as “The Margaret Look” which consisted of suave sunglasses, expensive purses, and other glamorous accessories, which she would pair with bohemian styled coats and flashes of bright colors.
She Had a Few Vices
Although it was not the done thing, Princess Margaret was partial to a drink and cigarette. She started smoking cigarettes from 15-years-old, and this took its toll on her body.
In 1985 she was forced to have an operation, but didn’t quit smoking until 1991.
Princess Margaret Meets Antony Armstrong-Jones
The young and vivacious princess ended up falling in love with filmmaker and fashion photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. Born and raised in London, Armstrong-Jones was definitely not in her league and of lower status.
However, his work was highly acclaimed, and his portraits of celebrity icons were published in Vogue and Vanity Fair, including David Bowie, Elizabeth Taylor, and Princess Diana. He had never been married, which made him a suitable partner for Princess Margaret. Even so, the couple and the Royal Family kept the romance a secret for two years, right until the announcement of their engagement.
The First Royal Wedding on TV
Anthony Armstrong-Jones proposed to Princess Margaret, and they wed on May 6, 1960, which would be the first marriage for them both. Princess Margaret was 29-years-old at the time.
The wedding took place at Westminster Abbey. It was the first royal wedding broadcast on television.
Her Wedding Dress Was Simple, the Tiara Took the Show
Everyone expected her wedding dress to be glamorous, however, the dress boasted a very simple design.The dress designer was Norman Hartwell, who also designed Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding dress. The chosen piece had a whopping 30 meters of fabric, but the show stopper was definitely the tiara. Crown jeweler Garrard made the piece in the 1870s, originally for Lady Poltimore.
It was made from antique silver, embellished with gold and diamonds. Rumors were flying around that Princess Margaret bought it herself. Others say it was purchased by her sister Queen Elizabeth II as a wedding present.
They Were a Glamorous Couple
Princess Margaret and her husband, Lord Snowdon were seen as Britain’s most glamorous royal couple. The fashion photographer and outgoing Princess lit up the room at events and enjoyed being the center of attention.However, as time went on, and they became a family with a son and a daughter, it seemed that the room wasn’t big enough for their two large personalities.
“”They were both pretty strong-willed and accustomed to having their own way, so there were bound to be collisions,” said Anne de Courcy, who wrote a biography on Lord Snowdon.
Margaret Loved The Arts, and Was Rumored to Have Affairs with Stars
The Rebellious Rebel had a passion for music and expressed herself through fashion. It never came to light if the rumors were true, but word spread that she was romantically involved with The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and also had a fling with actor Peter Sellers.
Leslie Hutchinson, an entertainer, claimed he had a relationship with Margaret before she was married. Apparently she had affairs during her marriage, which took its toll on her relationship, and Margaret and her husband eventually got divorced in 1978.
Princess Margaret’s Legacy: Don’t Be a Passenger in Your Own Life
After suffering from two strokes, Princess Margaret passed away in London in 2002, at 71 years old. The younger sister of the Queen left behind an interesting and rich legacy. Unexpectedly exposed to the spotlight at such a young age, Princess Margaret’s personality was scrutinized under a microscope for all to see.
She struggled with the rules and lack of privacy. As she’s said, “I have always had a dread of becoming a passenger in life.” Her love for risky fashion choices, passion for the arts, and being the life of the party is how she holds her legacy to this day and how she is remembered.
The Secret Engagement
Princess Margaret and the royal family attempted to keep her romances a secret, however many of her relationships were too high-profile to be kept under wraps. Yet, there is one proposal and engagement in Princess Margaret’s life that not many know of.
In 1956, rumor has it that she was briefly engaged to a family friend called Billy Wallace. She was 26-years-old at said time, and it was just one month after it was announced that Princess Margaret’s engagement to Townsend was no more.
The Bond Between Sisters
Growing up, Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth II were inseparable. Due to their younger years providing quite a sheltered existence in Windsor, they were homeschooled and only had each other for friendship. As they grew older, even though they grew apart and had different interests, their connection never wavered.
The siblings even shared direct telephone lines to each other, Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace, and Princess Margaret in Kensington Palace. Their favorite past time together was laughing and gossiping over lunch.
Her Kids Are Business Savvy and Artistic
Princess Margaret had a son, David Armstrong-Jones, and a daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto, their father was her ex-husband Anthony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon. Her son started in the restaurant business, and then went on to become a furniture maker.
Her daughter Sarah is a professional painter and studied at highly esteemed art schools. She then traveled to India with her father, to intern on the set of the film, A Passage to India. That’s where she met her husband, actor Daniel Chatto.
While a young mother, her marriage was anything but perfect, and both sides were unfaithful. She still made sure that her kids maintained a stable environment, of course mostly cared for by nannies. She expressed and shared her love of the arts with both of her children when she was around, and both of her children have acknowledged that their passions for music and art came from her.
Princess Margaret reportedly told the Queen, “I may not have achieved very much – but I at least feel my life has not been wasted, because I have produced two happy and well-adjusted children.”
She Wanted Her Freedom
Princess Margaret struggled with her role as a mother even though her kids had a happy childhood. Margaret opted for the nanny to raise the kids, however, Lord Snowdon wasn’t happy with this and wanted Margaret to spend more time with them, over nanny Sumner.
Just seven weeks after David’s birth, Princess Margaret was papped on holiday in Antigua.
Photos of Margaret and her “Toyboy Lover” Hit Tabloids
Princess Margaret’s friend Lady Glenconner, along with her husband, introduced her to a gardener named Roddy Llewelyn. He was 17 years younger than Margaret, who at that time was married to Lord Snowden. Lady Glenconner, noticed the two hitting it off and immediately knew that it was a mistake.
She recalls thinking, “They were more or less holding hands and I thought ‘Heavens, what have we done?’” Then in February 1976, photos of Princess Margaret and Llewelyn swimming on holiday on Mustique were splashed all over the tabloids. It was this scandalous affair that was the cherry on the cake. This then prompted Lord Snowdon’s family to release a statement that the marriage was over.
Her Drinking Habit Caught Up With Her
Princess Margaret’s divorce from Lord Snowdon was the first divorce of a senior member of the British royal family since 1901. She didn’t take it well, and alcohol became her vice. Just one month before her divorce was finalized, Princess Margaret was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and alcoholic hepatitis in May 1978.
However, it didn’t stop her. One acquaintance of the Princess said to The Guardian, “I visited her at Kensington Palace for lunch… She had a tumbler of whisky in her hand when we arrived. It stayed there throughout lunch and was handsomely replenished. As far as I could see, she had stopped drinking wine altogether. She was slurring her words slightly by the time we left. It made one feel rather sorry for her.”
The Public Painted An Unflattering Image of Her
By the late 1970s, she was not popular with the public. The press did not paint her in a positive way. Princess Margaret knew how society portrayed her.
American writer Gore Vidal recalled that Margaret had once told him, “When there are two sisters and one is the Queen, who must be the source of honor and all that is good, while the other must be the focus of the most creative malice, the evil sister.”
Mustique Was Her Escape
The Princess owned a villa on the island of Mustique, where she was caught with her boytoy. She often visited the tropical island and invited her family and friends. Millionaires like Colin Tennant would spend time at her villa. David Bowie and Mick Jagger were also regular visitors. Wild parties reportedly took place at the Princess’ house.
Someone who worked on the island told Vogue, “Macaroni Beach on the east of the island was her place. And everyone knew: What happened on Macaroni Beach stayed on Macaroni Beach.”
Queen Elizabeth II Didn’t Want Jagger to be Knighted
Queen Elizabeth II had met Mick Jagger before and was wary of any involvement that he had with her sister Princess Margaret. When the Prime Minister submitted Jagger’s name to be knighted, apparently, the Queen refused. His name was still submitted and still, Queen Elizabeth II said no.
Although other iconic musicians of England, such as Elton John and Paul McCartney were knighted, the Queen disliked what Jagger stood for. Finally, on December 12, 2003, Jagger was knighted, but not by the Queen. She enlisted Prince Charles instead.
Bohemian Lifestyle Was Looked Down Upon
Princess Margaret’s different lifestyle affected the royal family in a variety of ways. Spending time with artists, poets, and musicians, Margaret’s bohemian style was unique to the traditional wardrobe one would expect from a royal. She befriended designers who would create gowns especially for her.
One of her favorite designers was Christian Dior, who was new on the fashion scene at the time. Princess Margaret attended his events and wore an outfit designed by Dior to her 21st birthday party.
She Spoke Her Mind and Stepped on Some Toes
Many of her friends and acquaintances confirm that the late Princess never refrained from speaking her mind. She was quick-witted, but wouldn’t know when to close her mouth. In one instance, a woman who was hosting a party asked the Princess if she’d like to see photos of the couple’s children.
Margaret replied, “Why on earth would I want to see that?” and continued socializing and enjoying herself.
Princess Margaret’s Impact on the Royal Wedding 2018
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May 2018 is the most recent of the royal family. Markle has previously been married and divorced. However, Queen Elizabeth II approved of Prince Harry’s proposal and marriage and it became apparent that in denying her sister to do the same, it has people wondering if she ever regrets her decision.
It was 1953 when Queen Elizabeth II was getting ready for her coronation and Princess Margaret asked for her permission to marry Peter Townsend. The Queen famously commanded that she should wait a few years, as it was not acceptable for her to marry a divorced man. However, while it was not possible for her sister, the Queen made sure that Prince Harry would.