Princess Diana and Princess Margaret's turbulent relationship has been revealed

Princess Diana was initially welcomed by Princess Margaret into the Royal Family, but their relationship turned sour after her separation from Princes Charles

Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) and Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) wait at Victoria Station in London for the arrival of Italian President Francesco Cossiga on a State Visit, October 1990. Diana is wearing a green suit by Moschino. (Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

The complicated relationship between Lady Diana and Princess Margaret has been detailed in a new book by royal biographer Andrew Morton. 

Princess Diana and Princess Margaret's relationship has historically been outshined by the Queen's alleged disdain for the young royal – until now. 

Elizabeth and Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters explores the fascinating private lives of the Queen and her younger sister, taking an in-depth look at their differing responses to Princess Diana’s highly-publicized addition to the family in 1981. 

According to author Andrew Morton, Diana viewed her aunt-in-law as far more than a distant relative. 

Margaret was instrumental in helping the then 20-year-old to adjust to the unfamiliar territory of royal life, staying close to her in the early days inside the ‘Firm’. “Margaret did her make Diana feel at home, taking her to the theater, joining her for social events, taking her shopping, and essentially showing her the ropes,” Morton reveals. 

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11: Diana, Princess Of Wales, Holding A Young Prince Harry In Her Arms As She Watches Trooping The Colour With Prince William And Princess Margaret From The Balcony Of Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Princess Diana and Princess Margaret got on well in the earlier years 

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Unlike her sister, Margaret was known a ‘party princess’ in her early years, having reveled in many of the hallmarks of ordinary youth - drinking, smoking, and dancing. With her fondness for pleasure and disdain for rigidity, she was more relatable to the young Diana than many of the other senior royals. Margaret reportedly took her under her wing after her honeymoon, helping her to ‘navigate the social nuances of the Balmoral summer holiday with the rest of the clan.’

This kindness didn’t go unnoticed. Diana gushed about Margaret to Morton, revealing, “I’ve always adored Margo. I love her to bits, and she has been wonderful to me from day one.”

As a naïve newcomer to the Royal Family, the Princess of Wales was regularly protected by her aunt. When the Queen expressed frustration at Diana’s struggle to embrace her role, Margaret urged her to be patient. "'Let her do what she likes,' said Margaret, feeling that her sister was being too black and white. 'Leave her alone and she will be alright,'" Morton writes. 

However, this compassion was severed in 1992 when it became clear that Prince Charles and Diana’s marriage was on the rocks. 

Margaret fled to the Queen’s side to support her as she grieved the separation, which was followed shortly after by the collapse of her daughter Anne’s marriage. The double blow was exacerbated by the destruction of her childhood home, Windsor Castle. The royal residence had been struck by a terrible fire caused by a faulty spotlight, resulting in $47.5 million worth of damage. 

“She retreated to Royal Lodge and spent the weekend with Margaret and her mother, almost inconsolable,” says Morton. 

Margaret became particularly protective of her sister during this painful time, revoking any loyalties she once held for Diana. She went on to completely cut her off following her BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir in 1995, in which Diana divulged a number of damning details about her experience inside the Royal Family. Margaret sent a scathing letter to Diana to express her fury at the supposed betrayal, before erasing any memories of the ‘People’s Princess’ from her home. 

“Margaret was angry and upset, so much that after the interview she threw out every magazine with Diana’s picture on the cover,” said Morton. The royal author also claims that Margaret burned all Diana’s letters to her mother, in an attempt to completely wipe her from the family's history. 

The warm feelings she once held for Diana never returned. 

When the Princess of Wales died in a tragic car crash in 1997, royal fans were quick to note Margaret's distinctively cold reaction. As she waited at Buckingham Palace for the gun carriage carrying Diana’s body, Margaret was apparently chatting to the Queen about renovating the toilets at Kensington Palace. She also seemed unmoved when the funeral cortege passed her, offering a mere nod of the head in respect of the late princess. This blatant lack of emotion was likely a reflection of her belief that Diana abandoned and humiliated the royal family following her interview, leaving them to pick up the pieces in her absence. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.