Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

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HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

Template:House of Windsor

Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon CI GCVO (Margaret Rose Armstrong-Jones, née Windsor; (August 21, 1930February 9, 2002) was the younger daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and sister of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. She also held the title of Countess of Snowdon by virtue of marriage.

A temperamental beauty known to be overly sensitive to perceived slights to her royal position, Princess Margaret was always a controversial member of the British Royal Family. Her private life was plagued by romantic disappointments, including an affair with a divorced older man in her youth, a subsequent often unhappy marriage to a commoner, an acrimonious divorce beset with accusations of adultery, and, in her later years, a public affair with a much younger man.


Early life

Princess Margaret Rose of York was born on August 21, 1930, at Glamis Castle, Scotland, her mother's ancestral home. Margaret was the first British princess born in Scotland since the House of Stuart. Her father was HRH The Prince Albert, Duke of York, the second eldest son of King George V and Queen Mary. Her mother was the former Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a daughter of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. As a grandchild of the sovereign, she was styled HRH Princess Margaret of York at birth.

Margaret was educated alongside her sister, Princess Elizabeth, by their governess, Marion Crawford. In 1936, her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne, and her father became King George VI. Margaret was then styled HRH The Princess Margaret. She attended her parents' coronation in 1937.

During World War II, Margaret stayed at Windsor Castle, just outside London. In 1952, her father died, and her sister became Queen Elizabeth II.

Peter Townsend

Two years after her sister's coronation, Margaret became embroiled in a public scandal over her love affair with Group Captain Peter Townsend, a Royal Air Force pilot and Battle of Britain hero. Townsend was several years Margaret's senior and divorced, which made him an unsuitable husband for a Royal Princess. Margaret soon came under heavy pressure not to marry Townsend, with suggestions she would lose her title, Civil List allowance and place in the line of succession. Taking advice from the Archbishop of Canterbury and senior politicians, she decided not to marry him and made a public announcement in which she stated her decision was determined out of loyalty to the Crown and her being mindful of her position and responsibilities

However, papers released in 2004 indicate had she married Townsend, she would have been allowed to keep her title as well as her Civil List allowance. [1] (


On May 6, 1960, Margaret married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, son of Ronald Armstrong-Jones and his first wife, Anne Messel, later Countess of Rosse, at Westminster Abbey. The ceremony could be considered the first "modern" royal wedding thanks to the wider availability of television in the UK. In honour of his Welsh descent, her husband was created Earl of Snowdon. Margaret was then formally styled HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.

Together they had two children: David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (later Chatto),

There are currently four grandchildren of Princess Margaret:

1. The Hon. Charles Armstrong-Jones (heir presumptive to the Earldom of Snowden), son of Viscount and Viscountess Linley.

2. The Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, daughter of Viscount and Viscountess Linley.

3. Samuel Chatto, older son of Lady Sarah and Daniel Chatto.

4. Arthur Chatto, younger son of Lady Sarah and Daniel Chatto.

Royal duties

Princess Margaret began her royal duties at a very early age. She attended the silver jubilee of her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, aged 5 in 1935. She later attended her parent’s 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 first solo tour was to the British colonies in the Caribbean in 1955.

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. Formerly Commandant-in-Chief of the Ambulance and Nursing Cadets of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, she later became Grand President of the St John Ambulance Brigade and Colonel-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps.

Private life

Princess Margaret's private life was one of intensive speculation. She owned a house on the Caribbean island of Mustique, a hedonist private resort that was her favourite holiday destination. (It was designed by her husband's uncle, the stage designer Oliver Messel.) Revelations of wild parties and drug taking were revealed in a documentary broadcast after the Princess’ death.

In the 1970s, revelations of an affair with Roddy Llewellyn, a much younger gardener, led to her divorce from the Earl of Snowdon, although the marriage was generally regarded as over long before the affair was made public. This was the first divorce of a senior royal since Princess Victoria of Edinburgh in the 1900s.

She had affairs with Anthony Barton, her daughter's godfather, and with Robin Douglas-Home, the nephew of a former British Prime Minister. Douglas-Home's suicide 18 months after Margaret ended their affair scandalized Britain. She was also rumored to have been romantically involved with musician Mick Jagger and actor Peter Sellers, although the true extent of her relationships with these two men has never been clear. According to "Margaret: The Secret Princess," an ITV program broadcast in Britain in February 2003, Princess Margaret also reportedly had a two-year affair with Sharman Douglas, the daughter of a American ambassador to the Court of St. James.

Later life

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HRH The Princess Margaret with her sister and mother on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Queen Mothers 100th Birthday 4 August 2000.

The Princess's later life was marred by illness and disability. She experienced a mild stroke in 1998 at her holiday home in Mustique. Later in the same year, the Princess severely scalded her feet in a bathroom accident, which affected her mobility to the extent she required support when walking and was sometimes restricted to a wheelchair. In 2000 and 2001, further strokes were diagnosed. Margaret’s last public appearance was at the 100th birthday celebrations of her aunt, HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester in December 2001.

Margaret died in hospital on February 9, 2002 after suffering several strokes. Her funeral was on the 50th anniversary of her father’s funeral and occurred during the jubilee year of the Queen. Her funeral was a private family event, though a full state memorial service was held for her several weeks later. This was the last time the Queen Mother was seen in public before her death.

Titles and honours


  • Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret of York (from birth to 1936)
  • Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret (1936 to 1950)
  • Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, CI (1950 to 1955)
  • Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, CI, GCVO (1955 to 1960)
  • Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Mrs Antony Armstrong-Jones, CI, GCVO (1960)
  • Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, CI, GCVO (1961 until her death)


Honourary military appointments

Colonel in Chief

Deputy Colonel-in-Chief

Royal Air Force

  • Honorary Air Commodore
  • Royal Air Force Coningsby

See also


nl:Margaret Windsor pl:Małgorzata (księżniczka)


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