There are several royal anniversaries that will be incredibly difficult for the Queen to remember, whether it is the death of her beloved father or the fast approaching first anniversary of Prince Philip’s passing. Today (February 9) is no different as it marks the 20th anniversary of the Queen’s close sister Princess Margaret’s death after a long struggle with poor health.
Princess Margaret, whose life was largely polarised by scandal is widely remembered for her glamorous lifestyle and her troubled love life. The late Princess was linked to many famous and recognisable names throughout her life – many of whom were deemed inappropriate to mix in royal circles. Find out more here.
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Princess Margaret and the Queen were incredibly close
(Image: The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Princess Margaret Rose of York was born on August 21, 1930 at Glamis Castle in Scotland to The Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). She was the younger sister of Princess Elizabeth who had been born in London a few years before in 1926.
Princess Margaret’s life was one that fascinated the public as it was tainted by scandal and the struggle to find a suitable partner. She was also famed for her love of partying, drinking and smoking, making her a true trailblazer for rebellious royals who came after her.
The Princess’s first romantic association was far from being a suitable choice as she fell madly in love with her father’s equerry, Group Captain Peter Townsend – a divorced man 16 years older than her. The news of their relationship came about when a journalist noticed her pick a piece of lint off of Townsend’s jacket at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
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The pair became engaged in April 1953 but the wedding never took place as the remarriage of a divorced person was not in line with the Royal Marriages Act 1772. They dissolved their relationship in 1955 and Margaret released a statement which read: “I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend. I have been aware that, subject to my renouncing my rights of succession, it might have been possible for me to contract a civil marriage.
“But mindful of the Church’s teachings that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before others. I have reached this decision entirely alone, and in doing so I have been strengthened by the unfailing support and devotion of Group Captain Townsend.”
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones announced their engagement in 1960
(Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Princess Margaret was then linked to her friend Billy Wallace and even accepted his proposal but it was never officially announced.
The Princess then met society photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1958 and they announced their engagement in 1959. The couple married at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 1960 and the ceremony was watched by 300 million people worldwide.
The new Earl and Countess of Snowdon moved into Kensington Palace and soon welcomed their two children, David, Viscount Linley (now 2nd Earl of Snowdon) was born on November 3, 1961 and Lady Sarah Chatto completed the family on May 1, 1964.
The couple soon drifted apart and both began numerous extramarital affairs with notable individuals. Princess Margaret is rumoured to have been linked to the likes of Robin Douglas-Home, Mick Jagger, Peter Sellers and Warren Beatty.
The next scandalous relationship was with Roddy Llewellyn
(Image: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
One of the most famous relationships had by Princess Margaret was with Roddy Llewellyn – a man 17 years younger than her who was frequently pictured visiting the princess in Mustique.
In 1976, a picture of the pair in swimsuits on the beach was broadcast around the world and there was enormous backlash.
The Princess and Armstrong-Jones acknowledged that their marriage was beyond repair soon after and their divorce was finalised on July 11, 1978. Antony remarried in December of the same year but remained close with Margaret.
The Princess – who had smoked heavily since she was a teenager – suffered from numerous bouts of ill health which included having part of her lung removed, an incident where she burnt her feet, numerous strokes and pneumonia.
Princess Margaret made one of her last appearances for her mother’s 101st birthday
(Image: UK Press/Getty Images)
On February 9, 2002 Princess Margaret died in London after suffering from another stroke which lead to cardiac problems the day before.
A statement from Buckingham Palace read: “The Queen, with great sadness, has asked for the following announcement to be made immediately. Her beloved sister, Princess Margaret, died peacefully in her sleep this morning at 6.30am, in The King Edward VII Hospital.”
The Princess passed away three days after the 50th anniversary of King George VI’s death and her funeral was held on February 15th – the same day as her father’s.
Margaret was one of very few royals to be cremated and her ashes were placed in the Royal Vault of St George’s Chapel before being transferred to the tomb of her parents when The Queen Mother died seven weeks later.
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Rebecca Russell is MyLondon’s Royal Correspondent who covers everything to do with The Royal Family and their history. Rebecca has a strong interest in every era of royal history and particularly enjoys writing and learning about the Georgians, Victorians and the Windsors.
Some of the stories she has written in the past month include a look at the Windsor home that could have been lived in by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the surprising hobby the Queen carried on from her ancestors that has an estimated value of over £10 million and the incredible life of The Countess of Wessex and why she is so close with The Queen.
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