Princess Margaret Rose, Countess of Snowdon, was born 21 August 1930 at her mother’s ancestral home, Glamis Castle in Scotland, to her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later known as the Queen Mother.
Known in the Royal family as Margot, she was the only and younger sibling of Queen Elizabeth II, and spent most of her childhood with her parents and her sister at their townhouse in London.
However, when her uncle, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne of England, Margaret’s life changed forever. With her father next to inherit the throne, the family moved to Buckingham Palace, and assumed the place of the Royal family.
Margaret was still in line to the throne, but in 1952 when King George VI passed away, her sister Elizabeth became Queen. Sadly, in 2002, due to a growing decline of her health, Margaret departed at the age of 71.
Amidst many of her sometimes whirlwind romances, the Princess endured forbidden love at a young age with a man she would never be allowed to marry, then eventually became the first member of the Royal family in 400 years to make headlines for divorcing, or being divorced by her husband – the previous royal person was the rather notorious King Henry VIII.
Furthermore, according to many rumours, she had numerous affairs in her time, often with men years younger than herself, which afforded her the stigma of a predatory woman by the press. Many of the rumours are still the subject of speculation, as few of them were ever proven to be true or even partly accurate. However, some of her promiscuous scandals endured public attention. From her earliest romance to the last, they were often riddled with sorrow and controversy.
Princess Margaret’s earliest known love interest was with Group Captain, Peter Townsend, a World War II veteran who served as King George VI’s equerry from 1944 to 1952, and subsequently continued in the position for Queen Elizabeth’s first year, until 1953.
Princess Margaret and Peter may have known each other for a very long time, but news of the romance between them first reached the media in 1952. During the coronation ceremony held for Queen Elizabeth II, the two engaged socially and seemed intimate enough to suggest what the rumours insinuated.
However, public attraction only brought to light the many reasons why they couldn’t marry. The first was that he was a simple commoner, and although it would not have been too big of a problem, the biggest reason was his previous marriage.
Also, Peter was 15 years older than Margaret, who at the time was 22-years-old, and Peter had two children with his wife whom he divorced in 1953. At that time, the Church of England was greatly opposed to divorce, particularly involving members of the royal family, and didn’t official recognise it. This meant that in the eyes of the Church, Peter would still be married. According to the acts of marriage in concern with the Royalty, established in the seventeen hundreds, their union would require the Queen’s permission.
Although her sister was never opposed to their love, being the head of the Church of England prevented Queen Elizabeth II from granting the required permission. The only way they could have married was if Princess Margaret abandoned her position as Princess, giving up both her title and her royal allowance, which would also mean that she would most likely have to leave the country.
Even the British Cabinet disapproved of a union between Princess Margaret and Group Captain Townsend, as did the rest of Parliament, advising the Queen to deny permission, unless the Princess surrendered her rights to the throne.
Sir Alen Lascelles, the Queen’s private councillor, advised the Queen to send Townsend abroad, but she refused and instead assigned him to her own household. This was a subtle attempt to separate the two love birds without causing too much drama, as Royalty feared it could harm their image if they were to get married.
According to a poll conducted by the media, the public, on the other hand, was almost unanimously in favour of allowing Princess Margaret to marry whomever she pleased, and that ultimately it was her decision.
In 2004, documents in the National Archive revealed that Queen Elizabeth II, in association with the Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden, attempted to change the laws of the Royal Marriages Act in 1955. Their attempts to remove the need for the Queen’s permission and allowing Princess Margaret to keep her title failed. In the documents, the Queen’s views stated that she did not want to stand in the way of her sister’s happiness.
However, in October of 1955, Princess Margaret released a statement saying that she would no longer be marrying Townsend. Media speculation considered that Princess Margaret did not decide this by herself, despite what she said in her statement. Sadly, Princess Margeret’s romance with Peter Townsend came to an end, and he married a young Belgian women, Marie-Luce Jamagne.
Media speculation continued to question who the Princess’ suitor would be, since, traditionally it was expected that she would marry. Speculation included the Prime Minister of Canada, John Turner, Dominic Elliot, and Colin Tennant. During the same time, Princess Margaret had a brief, unofficial engagement to another ‘commoner’, family friend Billy Wallace, but after he confessed infidelity to her, she broke off the supposed engagement.
Princess Margaret met her husband to be, Antony Armstrong-Jones, at a supper party in 1958. Antony worked as a photographer and filmmaker, whom many considered to be bi-sexual. In a later statement, Antony said that he never fell in love with boys, but a few men had been in love with him.
Despite these rumours, Antony and Princess Margaret had an apparently beautiful relationship in the beginning, mostly in secret, and only in 1960 when they announced their engagement, did the media and public learn about their romance.
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones
Some believe that they would meet up on regular occasions during the early periods of their relationship at a secret rendezvous spot for intimate fun. One thing was certain between them, and that was that they shared an interest in the arts, specifically for music and film.
They announced their engagement on 26 February, shortly after Princess Margaret received news that Peter Townsend was to marry. Antony proposed with a ruby ring decorated with diamonds in the shape of a rosebud, possibly to symbolise her second name – Rose.
On 6 May 1960, Antony and Princess Margeret married at Westminster Abbey, before the eyes of 2000 guests. Their wedding was also the first Royal wedding to be televised, and attracted 300 million viewers worldwide.
The Princess’ wore a dress designed by Norman Hartnell, detailed with the Poltimore tiara as she walked down the aisle, led by her niece Princess Anne and escorted by her father, the Duke of Edinburgh. They held their honeymoon on the royal yacht Brittania, for a six-week cruise around the Caribbean.
However, the honeymoon was spoiled by a scandalous event that would come to light only years later. While on honeymoon, a mistress of Antony, Camilla Fry, allegedly gave birth to his child, which a paternity test years later proved the case.
Antony and Margaret would later have children of their own, David and Sarah, who both gained titles after Queen Elizabeth made their father Earl of Snowdon. However, it was only the first of a string of extra-marital affairs committed by both partners.
In 1966, Princess Margaret had an affair with her daughter’s godfather, Anthony Barton, and a year later, a month-long affair with Robin Douglas-Home, the nephew of Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home. Although Princess Margaret claimed that their relationship remained purely platonic, letters written to each other indicated a rather more intimate attachment.
Robin later committed suicide, suffering from years of depression, as he didn’t take the end of his relationship with Princess Margaret easily. Other rumours and speculations suggested that Princess Margeret had encounters with singer Mick Jagger, comic actor Peter Sellers, and Australian cricketer Keith Miller, but these relationships remain unproven.
A 2009 biography of the actor David Niven revealed that he allegedly had an affair with Princess Margaret, who was twenty years older than him; this information was sourced from his widow and a close friend but never proven.
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Other rumoured lovers include actors John Bindon and Warren Beatty. By the ‘70s, Princess Margeret and her husband, Antony had drifted apart, and in 1976 they announced their separation.
In September 1973, Colin Tennant introduced Princess Margeret to Roddy Llewellyn, the young man later considered to be the last nail in the coffin of her dying marriage. Margaret described their relationship as a loving friendship, and continued to see him for years, despite the scrutiny they endured because of their age gap.
Llewellyn was 17 years younger than her, and it was this relationship that acquired her the stigma of a predator, as the media referred to Roddy as her boy-toy. Margaret became so overwhelmingly attached to Llewellyn, that on one occasion when Roddy left on a spontaneous trip to Turkey, she took an overdose of sleeping pills.
She told the press that she was exhausted because of everything, and only wanted to sleep.
During her recovery from the ordeal, her ladies-in-waiting attempted to keep her husband away from her, afraid that his presence may affect her negatively, and result in something worse than the attempts she’d already made.
In 1976, photographs of Princess Margaret and Roddy in their bathing suits while on vacation in the Caribbean made headlines, and shortly afterwards Margaret and Antony announced their inevitable divorce.
In 1978, Margaret successfully filed for divorce, and became the first Royal family member to do so since Henry VIII in 1533. Margaret’s influence on the Church’s views on divorce changed the outcome of future royal relationships, including her nephew, Prince Charles’ divorce from Lady Diana. Members of the royal family who followed in her wake would have plenty to thank her for, especially because she influenced the laws on royal divorce.
Margaret’s relationship with Llewellyn continued for a few more years, despite the wishes of her sister, Queen Elizabeth II. However, in 1981 Roddy married Tatiana Soskin, and his relationship with Margaret came to an end. The Princess gave them her blessing, wishing them well, and remaining friends with the couple for years.
After her divorce made media headlines, politicians suggested Princess Margaret’s removal from the civil list, and ending her Royal allowance. It never happened, as Margaret lived for years more like royalty, but in all the time that passed until her unfortunate death in 2002, didn’t marry a second time.
People close to her said that Margaret was very lonely towards the end of her life, a rather sad ending to an acknowledged vivacious lady who was perhaps at least partly unfortunate to live her life under the constraints which her Royal birth placed on her.
Source: Affair Post