The Full Wiki

More info on Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (Margaret Rose; 21 August 1930 – 9 February 2002) was the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II.

Margaret spent much of her early life in the company of her elder sister and parents, The Prince Albert, Duke of York and Elizabeth, Duchess of York . Her life changed dramatically in 1936, when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the divorced American Wallis Simpson. Margaret's father became King in Edward's place, and after her elder sister, Elizabeth, Margaret became second in line to the throne.

During World War II, Margaret and Elizabeth stayed at Windsor Castlemarker, despite government pressure to evacuate to Canada. During the war years, Margaret was not expected to perform any public or official duties, and instead continued her education. After the war, she fell in love with a divorced older man, Group Captain Peter Townsend, her father's equerry. Her father died at around the same time, and her sister Elizabeth became Queen. Many in the government felt that Townsend was an unsuitable husband for the Queen's sister, and the Church of England refused to countenance the marriage. Under pressure, Margaret chose to abandon her plans, and instead accepted the proposal of the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, who was created Earl of Snowdon by the Queen. The marriage, despite an auspicious start, soon became unhappy; the couple divorced in 1978.

Margaret was often viewed as a controversial member of the Royal Family. Her divorce earned her negative publicity, and she was romantically linked with several men. Her health gradually deteriorated; a heavy smoker all her adult life, she had a lung operation in 1985, a bout of pneumonia in 1993, and at least three strokes between 1998 and 2001. Margaret died at King Edward VII Hospital, London, on 9 February 2002. After a private funeral, her body was cremated. Two months later, after the death of her mother, Margaret's ashes were interred beside the bodies of her parents in the George VI Memorial Chapel at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castlemarker.

Early life

Margaret was born Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret Rose of York on 21 August 1930 at Glamis Castlemarker in Angusmarker, Scotlandmarker, her mother's ancestral home. At the time of her birth, she was fourth in the line of succession to the British throne. Her father was Prince Albert, Duke of York (later George VI), the second son of King George V and Queen Mary. As a grandchild of the Sovereign in the male line, Margaret Rose was styled Her Royal Highness from birth. Her mother was Elizabeth, Duchess of York, the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. The Duchess of York originally wanted the names Ann Margaret, as she explained to Queen Mary in a letter: "I am very anxious to call her Ann Margaret, as I think Ann of York sounds pretty, & Elizabeth and Ann go so well together." King George V disliked the name Ann, but approved of the alternative "Margaret Rose". She was baptised in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palacemarker on 30 October 1930 by Cosmo Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and her godparents were her uncle the Prince of Wales (for whom his brother, Prince George, stood proxy); her father's cousin Princess Ingrid of Sweden (for whom Lady Patricia Ramsay stood proxy); her great-aunt Princess Victoria; her maternal aunt Lady Rose Leveson-Gower; and her maternal uncle The Hon David Bowes-Lyon.

Margaret's early life was spent primarily at the Yorks' residences at 145 Piccadillymarker (their town house in London) or Royal Lodgemarker in Windsor. The Yorks were perceived by the public as an ideal family: father, mother and children, but unfounded rumours that Margaret was deaf and dumb were not completely dispelled until Margaret's first main public appearance at her uncle Prince George's wedding in 1934. She was educated alongside her sister, Princess Elizabeth, by their Scottish governess Marion Crawford. Her education was mainly supervised by her mother, who in the words of Randolph Churchill "never aimed at bringing her daughters up to be more than nicely behaved young ladies". When Queen Mary insisted upon the importance of education, the Duchess of York commented, "I don't know what she meant. After all I and my sisters only had governesses and we all married well—one of us very well". Margaret was resentful about her limited education, especially in later years, aiming criticism at her mother. However, Margaret's mother told a friend that she "regretted" that her own daughters did not go to school like other children, and the employment of a governess rather than sending the girls to school may have been done only at the insistence of King George V.

George V died when Margaret was five, and her uncle succeeded as King Edward VIII. Less than a year later, on 11 December 1936, Edward abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American, who neither the Church of England nor the Commonwealth governments would accept as Queen. The Church would not recognise the marriage of a divorced woman with a living ex-husband as valid. Edward's abdication for love left a reluctant Duke of York in his place as King George VI, and Margaret unexpectedly became second in line to the throne. The family moved into Buckingham Palacemarker; Margaret's room overlooked The Mallmarker.

Margaret was a Brownie in the 1st Buckingham Palace Brownie Pack, formed in 1937. She was also a Girl Guide and later a Sea Ranger. She served as President of Girlguiding UK from 1965 until her death in 2002.

At the outbreak of World War II, Margaret and her sister were at Birkhall, on the Balmoral Castlemarker estate, where they stayed until Christmas 1939 enduring nights so cold that drinking water in carafes by their bedside froze. They spent Christmas at Sandringham Housemarker, before moving to Windsor Castlemarker just outside London for much of the remainder of the war. Lord Hailsham wrote to Prime Minister Winston Churchill to advise the evacuation of the princesses to the greater safety of Canada, to which their mother famously replied "The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave." When Margaret was twelve in 1942 her uncle and godfather, Prince George, was killed in an air crash. Unlike other members of the royal family, Margaret was not expected to undertake any public or official duties during the war. She developed her skills at singing and playing the piano. Her contemporaries thought she was spoilt by her parents, especially her father, who allowed her to take liberties not usually permissible, such as being allowed to stay up to dinner at the age of 13. Marion Crawford despaired at the attention Margaret was getting, writing to friends "Could you this year only ask Princess Elizabeth to your party? ... Princess Margaret does draw all the attention and Princess Elizabeth lets her do that." Elizabeth, however, did not mind this, commenting, "oh, it's so much easier when Margaret's there—everybody laughs at what Margaret says". King George described Elizabeth as his pride and Margaret as his joy.

Post-war years

Following the end of the war in 1945, Margaret appeared on the balcony at Buckingham Palacemarker with her family and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Afterwards, both Elizabeth and Margaret joined the crowds outside the palace incognito chanting, "we want the King, we want the Queen!". On 1 February 1947, Margaret, Elizabeth and her parents embarked on a state tour of Southern Africa. The three-month long visit was Margaret's first visit abroad, and she later claimed that she remembered "every minute of it". Margaret was chaperoned by Peter Townsend, the King's equerry. Later that year, Margaret was a bridesmaid at Elizabeth's wedding. Elizabeth had two children, Charles and Anne, in the next two years, which moved Margaret further down the line of succession.

In 1950, the former royal governess, Marion Crawford, published a biography of Elizabeth and Margaret's childhood years entitled The Little Princesses in which she described Margaret's "light-hearted fun and frolics" and her "amusing and outrageous ... antics". The royal family were appalled at what they saw as Crawford's invasion of their privacy and breach of trust, as a result of which Crawford was ostracised from royal circles.

As a beautiful young woman, with an 18-inch waist and "vivid blue eyes", Margaret enjoyed socialising with high society and the young, aristocratic set, including Sharman Douglas, the daughter of the American ambassador, Lewis W. Douglas. She was often featured in the press at balls, parties, and night-clubs. The number of her official engagements increased, which included a tour of Italy, Switzerland and France, and she joined a growing number of charitable organisations as President or Patron.

Her twenty-first birthday party was held at Balmoral in August 1951. The following month her father underwent surgery for lung cancer, and Margaret was appointed one of the Counsellors of State who undertook the King's official duties while he was incapacitated. Within six months, her father was dead and her sister was Queen.


Margaret was grief-stricken by her father's death, and was prescribed sedatives to help her sleep. She wrote, "He was such a wonderful person, the very heart and centre of our happy family." She was consoled by her deeply-held Christian beliefs. With her widowed mother, Margaret moved out of Buckingham Palace and into Clarence Housemarker, while her sister and her family moved out of Clarence House and into Buckingham Palace. Peter Townsend was appointed Comptroller of her mother's household.

By 1953, Townsend was divorced from his first wife; he proposed marriage to Margaret. He was sixteen years older than her, and had two children from his previous marriage. Margaret accepted, and informed the Queen of her desire to marry Townsend. As in 1936, the Church of England refused to countenance the remarriage of the divorced. Queen Mary had recently died, and the Queen was about to be crowned in the Coronation service. After the Coronation, she planned to tour the Commonwealth for six months. The Queen told Margaret, "Under the circumstances, it isn't unreasonable for me to ask you to wait a year." The Queen was counselled by her private secretary to post Townsend abroad, but she refused, instead transferring him from the Queen Mother's household to her own. The British Cabinet refused to approve the marriage, and newspapers reported that the marriage was "unthinkable" and "would fly in the face of Royal and Christian tradition". Prime Minister Churchill informed the Queen that the Commonwealth prime ministers were unanimously against the marriage, and that Parliament would not approve a marriage that would be unrecognised by the Church of England unless Margaret renounced her right of succession. Churchill arranged for Townsend to be posted to Brussels. Polls run by popular newspapers appeared to show that the public supported Margaret's personal choice, regardless of Church teaching or the government's opinion. For two years, press speculation continued. Margaret was told by clerics, incorrectly, that she would be unable to take communion if she married a divorced man. Finally, Margaret issued a statement:

Following some other romantic interests, on 6 May 1960 Margaret married the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbeymarker. She reportedly accepted his proposal a day after learning from Peter Townsend that he intended to marry a young Belgian woman, Marie-Luce Jamagne, who was half his age and bore a striking resemblance to Margaret. The announcement of the engagement, on 26 February 1960, took the press by surprise. Margaret had taken care to conceal the romance from reporters. The ceremony was the first royal wedding to be broadcast on television, and attracted viewing figures of 300 million worldwide. Margaret's corsage was designed by Norman Hartnell, and the honeymoon was spent aboard the royal yacht Britanniamarker on a six-week Caribbean cruise. As a wedding present, Colin Tennant gave her a plot of land on his private Caribbean island, Mustiquemarker. The newly-weds moved into rooms in Kensington Palacemarker. In 1961, the Princess's husband was created Earl of Snowdon, whereupon she became formally styled HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. They had two children, both born by Caesarean section at Margaret's request: David, Viscount Linley in 1961 and Lady Sarah in 1964.

The marriage widened Princess Margaret's social circle beyond the Court and aristocracy to include show business celebrities and bohemians, and was seen at the time as reflecting the breakdown of class barriers. The Snowdons experimented with the styles and fashions of the 1960s.

Royal duties

Princess Margaret began her royal duties at an early age. She attended the silver jubilee of her grandparents, George V and Queen Mary, aged five in 1935. She later attended her parents' coronation in 1937. Her first major royal tour occurred when she joined her parents and sister for a tour of South Africa in 1947. Her tour aboard Britannia to the British colonies in the Caribbean in 1955 created a sensation throughout the West Indies, and calypsos were dedicated to her. As colonies of the British Commonwealth of Nations sought nationhood, Princess Margaret represented the Crown at independence ceremonies in Jamaica in 1962 and Tuvalu and Dominica in 1978. Her visit to Tuvalu was cut short after an illness, which may have been viral pneumonia, and she was flown to Australia to recuperate. Other Overseas tours included the United States in 1963, Japan in 1969 and 1979, the United States and Canada in 1974, Australia in 1975, the Philippines in 1980, Swaziland in 1981, and China in 1987.

The Princess's main interests were welfare charities, music and ballet. She was President of the National Society and of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Invalid Children's Aid Nationwide (also called 'I CAN'). She was Grand President of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and Colonel-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. She was also the president or patron of numerous organisations, such as the Northern Ballet Theatre, West Indies Olympic Association, the Girl Guides and the London Lighthouse (an AIDS charity that has since merged with the Terrence Higgins Trust).

Private life

Reportedly, her first extramarital affair took place in 1966, with her daughter's godfather, Bordeaux wine producer Anthony Barton, and a year later she had a one-month liaison with Robin Douglas-Home, a nephew of a former British Prime Minister. Margaret claimed that her relationship with Douglas-Home was platonic, but her letters to him (which were later sold) were intimate. Douglas-Home committed suicide 18 months after the split with Margaret. Claims that she was romantically involved with musician Mick Jagger, actor Peter Sellers, and Australian cricketer Keith Miller are unproven. A 2009 biography of actor David Niven asserted based on information from his widow and a good friend of Niven's that he too had had an affair with the princess. Another association was supposed to be with John Bindon, a cockney actor who had spent time in prison. His story, sold to the Daily Mirror, boasted of a close relationship with Margaret and, while it was debatable, the publicity that followed further damaged her reputation.

By the early 1970s, the Snowdons had drifted apart. In September 1973, Colin Tennant introduced Margaret to Roddy Llewellyn. Llewellyn was seventeen years her junior. In 1974, he was a guest at the holiday home she had built on Mustique. It was the first of several visits. Margaret described their relationship as "a loving friendship". Once, when Llewellyn left on an impulsive trip to Turkey, Margaret became emotionally distraught and took an overdose of sleeping tablets. "I was so exhausted because of everything", she later said, "that all I wanted to do was sleep." As she recovered, her ladies-in-waiting kept Lord Snowdon away from her, afraid that seeing him would distress her further.

In February 1976, a picture of Margaret and Llewellyn in swimsuits on Mustique was published on the front page of the tabloid News of the World. The press portrayed Margaret and Llewellyn as a predatory older woman and her toyboy lover. The following month, the Snowdons publicly acknowledged that their marriage was over. There were calls to remove her from the Civil list. Labour MPs denounced her as "a royal parasite", and a "floosie". On 11 July 1978, the Snowdons' divorce was finalised. It was the first divorce of a senior Royal since Princess Victoria of Edinburgh in 1901. In December Snowdon married Lucy Lindsay-Hogg.

Later life

While on a fund-raising tour of the United States in October 1979 on behalf of the Royal Opera Housemarker, Margaret became embroiled in the controversy over the assassination of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Mountbatten and members of his family were killed by a bomb planted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Seated at a dinner reception in Chicagomarker with columnist Abra Anderson and mayor Jane Byrne, Margaret told them that the royal family had been moved by the many letters of condolence from Ireland. The following day, a single press report, written by Anderson's rival Irv Kupcinet, claimed that Margaret had referred to the Irish as "pigs". Margaret, Anderson and Byrne all issued immediate denials, but the damage was already done. The rest of the tour drew demonstrations, and Margaret's security was doubled in the face of physical threats.

In 1981, Llewellyn married Tatiana Soskin, whom he had known for ten years. Margaret remained close friends with them both.

The Princess's later life was marred by illness and disability. She had smoked since at least the age of 15. On 5 January 1985, she had part of her left lung removed; the operation drew parallels with that of her father 30 years earlier. In 1991, she quit smoking, but continued to drink heavily. In January 1993 she was admitted to hospital for pneumonia. She experienced a mild stroke in 1998 at her holiday home in Mustique. Early in the following year, the Princess suffered severe scalds to her feet in a bathroom accident, which affected her mobility to the extent she required support when walking and sometimes used a wheelchair. In January and March 2001, further strokes were diagnosed, which left her with partial vision and paralysis on the left side. Margaret's last public appearances were at the 101st birthday celebrations of her mother in August 2001, and the 100th birthday celebration of her aunt, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, that December.


Princess Margaret died in the King Edward VII Hospital on 9 February 2002 at the age of 71, after suffering another stroke. Her funeral was held on 15 February 2002—the 50th anniversary of her father's funeral. In line with the Princess's wishes, the ceremony was a private service for family and friends. It was the last time the Queen Mother was seen in public before her own death six weeks later; she was advised by many not to attend but she insisted on doing so. Unlike most other members of the Royal Family, Princess Margaret was cremated, at Slough Crematorium. Her ashes were placed in the tomb of her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castlemarker, two months later. A state memorial service was held at Westminster Abbeymarker on 19 April 2002.

Princess Margaret's nephew, Charles, Prince of Wales, talked about her after her death:

Observers often characterised her as a spoiled snob capable of cutting remarks or hauteur. She even apparently looked down on her own grandmother, Mary of Teck, because Mary was royal only by marriage, whereas Margaret was royal by birth. Their letters, however, provide no indication of friction between them. She could also, however, be charming and informal. People who came into contact with her could be perplexed by her capricious swings between frivolity and formality. Marion Crawford explained, "Impulsive and bright remarks she made became headlines and, taken out of their context, began to produce in the public eye an oddly distorted personality that bore little resemblance to the Margaret we knew." Margaret's acquaintance Gore Vidal wrote, "She was far too intelligent for her station in life." He recalled a conversation with Margaret, in which she discussed her public notoriety, saying, "It was inevitable: when there are two sisters and one is the Queen, who must be the source of honour and all that is good, while the other must be the focus of the most creative malice, the evil sister."

In June 2006, much of her estate was auctioned by Christie's to meet inheritance tax, though some of the items were sold in aid of charities such as the Stroke Association. A world record price of £1.24 million was set by a Fabergé clock, and the Poltimore tiara, worn for her wedding in 1960, sold for £926,400. The sale of her effects totalled £13,658,000. In April 2007, an exhibition entitled Princess Line - The Fashion Legacy of Princess Margaret opened at Kensington Palacemarker, showcasing contemporary fashion from British designers such as Vivienne Westwood inspired by Princess Margaret's 'legacy' of style. Christopher Bailey's Spring 2006 collection for Burberry was inspired by Margaret's look from the 1960s.

Princess Margaret's private life was for many years the subject of intense speculation by media and royal-watchers. Her house on Mustique, designed by her husband's uncle the stage designer Oliver Messel, was her favorite holiday destination. Allegations of wild parties and drug taking were made in a documentary broadcast after the Princess's death. Her supposed Mustique indiscretions form an important part of the background of the quasi-historical 2008 film The Bank Job. Princess Margaret was portrayed by Lucy Cohu in the Channel 4 TV drama The Queen's Sister (2005), by Trulie MacLeod in the TV drama The Women of Windsor (1992), and by Hannah Wiltshire in the TV drama Bertie and Elizabeth; she is portrayed silently in the second series première of Ashes to Ashes (2009, set in 1982) and subsequently complains off-camera about one of the principal characters.Her affair with Peter Townsend and the Queen's dealing with this was the subject of the first episode of the Channel 4 Docudrama The Queen in which she was portrayed by Katie McGrath

It is argued that Margaret's most enduring legacy is an accidental one. Perhaps unwittingly, Margaret paved the way for public acceptance of royal divorce. Her life, if not her actions, made the decisions and choices of her sister's children, three of whom divorced, easier than they otherwise would have been.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

  • 21 August 1930 – 11 December 1936: Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret of York
  • 11 December 1936 – 3 October 1961: Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret
  • 3 October 1961 – 9 February 2002: Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon


Foreign Honours

Honorary military appointments




 United Kingdom




  1. Heald, p. 1; Warwick, pp. 27–28
  2. Warwick, p. 31
  3. Warwick, pp. 31–32
  4. Heald, p. 6; Warwick, p. 33
  5. Crawford, pp. 14–34; Heald, pp. 7–8; Warwick, pp. 35–39
  6. Warwick, pp. 34, 120
  7. Warwick, pp. 45–46
  8. Quoted in Warwick, p.52
  9. Lisa Sheridan in From Cabbages to Kings, quoted by Warwick, pp. 51–52
  10. Warwick, p. 52
  11. Heald, p. 11; Warwick, p. 71
  12. Heald, p. 18; Warwick, p. 76
  13. Crawford, p. 110; Warwick, p. 98
  14. Crawford, pp. 104–119; Warwick, pp. 99–101
  15. Warwick, p. 102
  16. Dempster, p. 8
  17. Bradford; Heald, p. 9
  18. Bradford
  19. Botham, p. 9
  20. Aronson, p. 92
  21. Aronson, p. 97
  22. Heald, p. 39
  23. Heald, p. 53
  24. Crawford, p. 111
  25. Crawford, p. 164
  26. Heald, p. 7; Warwick, pp. 40–43
  27. Warwick, p. 140
  28. Warwick, pp. 138–139
  29. Warwick, pp. 140–142
  30. Warwick, pp. 154–159
  31. Heald, p. 84; Warwick, p. 163
  32. Warwick, p. 167
  33. Warwick, p. 170
  34. Warwick, pp. 170–171
  35. Heald, p. 89; Warwick, p. 180
  36. Heald, p. 91; Warwick, p. 176
  37. Warwick, p. 182
  38. The Queen quoted by Princess Margaret, in Warwick, p. 186
  39. Warwick, p. 187
  40. e.g. The People newspaper quoted in Warwick, p. 190
  41. Warwick, p. 191
  42. Warwick, p. 192
  43. Warwick, p. 203
  44. Rumoured suitors included the Hon. Dominic Elliot, Billy Wallace, and Colin Tennant (Heald, p.105).
  45. Heald, p. 112: "looked strikingly like Princess Margaret"; Warwick, p. 223: "more than a passing resemblance to the Princess"
  46. Heald, pp. 114–115; Warwick, p. 225
  47. Warwick, p. 227
  48. Heald, pp. 119–121; Warwick, pp. 229–230
  49. Heald, p. 122; Warwick, p. 271
  50. Heald, p. 141; Warwick, p. 233
  51. Heald, pp. 140–141
  52. Haden-Guest, Anthony: "The New Class", The Queen (magazine), 1965
  53. Warwick, p. 239
  54. Payne, p. 17
  55. Heald, pp. 149–150
  56. Heald, pp. 206–207
  57. Heald, p. 207
  58. Heald, pp. 154–163, 210
  59. Heald, p. 187
  60. Heald, pp. 188–190
  61. Heald, pp. 225–226
  62. Heald, pp. 229–233
  63. Heald, pp. 245–247
  64. Heald, p. 170; Warwick, p. 245
  65. Heald, p. 170
  66. Warwick, pp. 245–246
  67. Aronson, Princess Margaret, p. 229
  68. Munn, Michael (24 May 2009). "Oh God, I wanted her to die". The Sunday Times, retrieved on 29 May 2009.
  69. Aronson, Princess Margaret, p. 260
  70. Heald, p. 194; Warwick, p. 255
  71. Margaret, quoted in Warwick, p. 256
  72. Heald, p. 198; Warwick, p. 257
  73. Quoted in Warwick, p. 257
  74. Warwick, p. 257
  75. Warwick, p. 258
  76. Heald, p. 197; Warwick, p. 258
  77. Denis Canavan quoted in Warwick, p. 260
  78. Willie Hamilton quoted in Warwick, p. 261
  79. Warwick, p. 263
  80. Warwick, p. 267
  81. Heald, p. 217; Warwick, p. 267
  82. Warwick, pp. 267–268
  83. Warwick, p. 274
  84. Heald, p. 308; Warwick, p. 256
  85. Heald, pp. 32–33
  86. Warwick, p. 276
  87. Heald, p. 256
  88. Warwick, pp. 290–291
  89. Warwick, pp. 299–302
  90. Warwick, p. 303
  91. Warwick, p. 304
  92. Warwick, p. 306
  93. Warwick, pp. 306–308
  94. Heald, p. 295
  95. Heald, pp. 130–131, 222–223
  96. Heald, p. 89
  97. Heald, pp. 15–16, 89
  98. Heald, p. 146
  99. Crawford, p. 226
  100. Heald, pp. 297–301
  101. Heald, p. 301
  102. Heald, pp. 296–297
  103. See, for example, Roy Strong quoted in Heald, p. 191
  104. Warwick, pp. 308–309
  105. Princess Margaret at no time assumed the title "Princess Margaret, Mrs Antony Armstrong-Jones" (see e.g. issues of the London Gazette 1 November 1960, 25 November 1960, 24 February 1961, 28 February 1961, 3 March 1961 and 24 March 1961).
  106. Supplement to the London Gazette, 6 June 1947


External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address