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Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret was born on August 21, 1930. She was the youngest daughter of the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and sister of the future Queen Elizabeth II. Educated at home, the Princess developed a strong interest in music from an early age, and subsequently became an accomplished pianist. The Princess made her first official appearance at the age of five, when she attended the Jubilee of her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary. Her next public appearance came in 1936, when she and her sister attended the coronation of their father and mother. The elevation of their father made Elizabeth first in line to the throne; Margaret remained second in line until the birth of Prince Charles in 1948.

Controversial Life

Princess Margaret was, until Princess Diana came along, the darling of royal watchers around the world. Her numerous charitable ventures brought her much admiration and respect, while her equally numerous "lifestyle mistakes" brought her an almost equal amount of derision. One of the earliest of these "mistakes" came when, at the age of 19, she was spotted smoking in public, something women of her day were never supposed to be seen doing. She then had the misfortune of falling in love with Group Captain Peter Townsend, who was not only divorced but also 17 years her senior. When it became obvious that she would have to choose between marrying Townsend and remaining a Princess, she chose the latter and ended her relationship with Townsend.


On May 6, 1960, the Princess, with blessings from the Royal Family, married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, in Westminster Abbey [pictures]. After a honeymoon in the West Indies, the couple made their home in an apartment at Kensington Palace. In October of 1961, Armstrong-Jones was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley. Two children were born to this union -- David Albert Charles, Viscount Linley, was born on November 3, 1961; Lady Sarah Frances Elizabeth was born on May 1, 1964. The couple separated in March of 1976, and were divorced in May of 1978.

Princess Margaret and 18-day-old David Albert Charles in a picture taken by the Earl of Snowdon
David Albert Charles

Later Life

As Princess Margaret's health began to deteriorate she began distancing herself from the public eye and spent most of her time on the Caribbean island of Mustique. She continued smoking, even after she became ill with hepatitis and had part of a lung removed; she finally quit in 1993, after a bout with pneumonia. In 1998, she suffered a stroke while on holiday in Mustique. Later that same year, she suffered severe burns to her feet in a bathroom accident, and from that time on was often confined to a wheelchair. She suffered a second stroke in January of 2001, and was left paralyzed on her left side by another stroke in March of that same year. Despite her failing health, the Princess continued to engage in as many official duties as possible, and also kept her positions with several charities and arts organizations.

Princess Margaret passed away on February 9, 2002, in The King Edward VII Hospital, London.

Honors, Appointments, Interests, and Duties

Princess Margaret had a lifelong passion for the performing arts, especially music and ballet. In 1957, she became the first president of the Royal Ballet, and remained in that position until her death. She also served as president of the Sadler's Wells Foundation.

Among her many charitable interests were the National Society and the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, for both of which she served as president.

Princess Margaret was the recipient of numerous Honorary Doctorates, including one in Music from London University.

The Princess's many military appointments and duties are listed below:

Royal Navy and Royal Marines
Special Relationships
HMS Illustrious
HMS Norfolk

Royal Army and Commonwealth Armies
15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars
The Bermuda Regiment
The Highland Fusiliers of Canada
The Princess Louise Fusiliers of Canada
Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
The Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment)
The Royal Newfoundland Regiment
[in all cases, always interested in their history, as well as in current events and postings]

Deputy Colonel-in-Chief
The Royal Anglian Regiment

Royal Air Force
Honorary Air Commodore
Royal Air Force Coningsby

British Decorations
Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, 1955
Royal Victorian Chain, 1990
Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem

Foriegn Orders and Decorations
Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion, 1948
Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar, First Class, 1956
Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Belgium, 1960
Order of the Crown, Lion and Spear of Toro Kingdom (Uganda), 1965
Order of the Precious Crown, First Class (Japan), 1971


CBC News

See Also

King George VI
Queen Elizabeth II
King George V
Westminster Abbey

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The Robinson Library >> England >> 20th Century

This page was last updated on February 09, 2019.