Princess Margaret: Experts on 'traumatising' affair
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The younger sister of the Queen was beautiful, popular, and known for her glamorous style. She married Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960 and the ceremony was the first royal wedding to be televised. Although Margaret was hugely popular with the public at the time, unearthed reports note that behind closed doors, courtiers claimed she was actually quite difficult.
In a 2009 article for Vanity Fair, royal author Anne de Courcy reminisced about a situation that took place on the day of Margaret’s wedding which highlighted how some inside Buckingham Palace truly felt.
Ms de Courcy explained that Antony – also known as Tony – had invited old friends from his father’s village in Wales but the bride-to-be chose not to invite any Clarence House staff – despite many of them having cared for her for years.
In the article, Ms de Courcy wrote: “Lord Adam Gordon, the controller of the household, summed up the feelings of many of them in a remark heard by William Tallon, who was standing close by.
“As Margaret passed him where he stood on the top step, as the glass coach waited to take her to Westminster Abbey, Gordon bowed and said, ‘Goodbye, Your Royal Highness,’ adding as the coach pulled away, ‘And we hope forever.”
Unearthed reports revealed that Margaret caused her staff endless extra work and treated the ones who looked after her badly.
She also had a reputation for handing them maddening demands.
The reasons for her actions could have stemmed from the fact that she chose the Royal Family over her first love Peter Townsend, a divorcee – who, at the time was not prohibited to marry a member of the Firm under the 1772 Royal Marriages Act.
The Act stated that it was illegal for any royal under the age of 25 to marry a divorcee.
If a royal member was at the age of consent and still wanted to marry a divorced person, they would need Her Majesty’s permission.
In the documentary ‘Elizabeth & Margaret: Love and Loyalty’ royal historian, Dr Ed Owens detailed the events that led up to the fallout of Margaret’s forbidden relationship with Mr Townsend.
He said: “So in the lead up to the coronation in 1953, there are already rumours in Fleet Street amongst journalists that Princess Margaret is romantically involved with a divorced man.
“And if you like, the journalists are looking for an opportunity to tell this story.”
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Christopher Warwick, Margaret’s authorised biographer explained further and added: “It was complete spontaneity, she went up to [Peter Townsend] and brushed her white glove hand over his lapel.
“This was an act of such intimacy that it had been picked up by journalists.”
Although Margaret was already 25 at the time, she still needed the Queen’s permission but she had already been given a firm ‘no’ from Parliament.
And, because Elizabeth had already dedicated her life to the crown, she could not approve of her sister’s relationship.
In the documentary, Dr Owens shed some more light on the exclusive news the media had gathered during the Queen’s coronation.
He said: “That one act made headline news in the foreign press – almost eclipsing the coronation itself, and that was the start of it.
“From this small chip in the arm of the Royal Family, there is this huge story.
“For months the coronation has been dominating the press coverage of the Royal Family and Elizabeth has been the central figure in that narrative.
“In the days and weeks immediately after the coronation – all of that attention – switches onto Margaret.
“She becomes the story.”
Mr Warwick further detailed the mood of the Palace after the news had broken of her sister’s antics which was also watched by more than 10 million people.
He added: “This put the Queen in a very difficult situation. She is now head of the family. She is temporal governor for the Church of England.
“The Church of England does not approve of divorce. One thing about the Queen is that she is such an uncomplicated character. She could not understand – why her sister – had to fall in love with a married man!”
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