Princess Margaret would keep guests waiting as she perfected her trademark looks - but she was always the life of the party

Princess Margaret was most definitely a character – being both the best and worst kind of party guest

Princess Margaret was the royal rebel through and through
(Image credit: Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Princess Margaret was known to be very different to her sister, the Queen, in many ways. Described by most who knew her as witty, occasionally rude, outrageous, bohemian, and strong-willed, Margaret was the ultimate coup for high society parties and dinners. But if anyone expected her to be on her best, royal behavior, they soon found that not to be the case. Margaret had a way of keeping guests waiting for hours, with nobody allowed to start or leave before her.

It’s a common occurrence for siblings to be drastically different, and there was perhaps no greater example than the late Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret.

Whereas the Queen was widely regarded as one of the most stoic, stable and steady figures, Margaret enjoyed the finer things in life and made no attempts to hide it.

From her decadent morning routine to the lavish ways she’d pay for her regular trips to Harrods and the beauty salons, Princess Margaret enjoyed the spoils of her privileged life. Whereas the Queen had to be mindful of every word she uttered and every move she made, Margaret leaned into her reputation as the royal rebel.

Princess Margaret was known for her decadent routines and outrageous comments

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

In fact, her New York Times obituary reports that she once told the French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, “Disobedience is my joy.”

And when it came to being a party guest, she most definitely proved that.

Forgetting the impressions of royals being stuffy and stuck to protocol and rigid rules, Margaret was known to keep guests waiting for hours. Being late is bad enough, but royal protocol dictated that dinner couldn’t actually start until Princess Margaret had arrived.

The problem with that was nobody ever knew just how late she’d be.

Princess Margaret was very different in nature to the Queen

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

In an excerpt from The Letters of Nancy Mitford, a British aristocrat, she writes “Dinner was at 8.30 and at 8.30 Princess Margaret’s hairdresser arrived, so we waited for hours while he concocted a ghastly coiffure.”

Being kept waiting while she perfected her signature looks might have left some of her friends to be harsher in their critiques. Nancy Mitford continues in the extract, “She looked like a huge ball of fur on two well-developed legs.”

With friends like these…

While Margaret seems impossibly rude keeping her guests waiting while she got her hair done, others suggest this was part of the “immersive Margaret experience.” If anything, people wanted this sort of behavior, according to Craig Brown’s book, Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret.

Princess Margaret would keep dinner parties going until the early hours of the morning and nobody could leave before her

(Image credit: Kypros/Getty Images)

He writes, “Hoity toity is what we wanted. For most recipients, hosts and guests… it was part of a package deal… they were left with a suitably outrageous story – the ungracious royal! The bad princess!”

Other anecdotes include the game she’d play with her husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon.

When bored, they’d play the bread game. Every time someone said a cliché, either Margaret or Antony would rip off a piece of bread and put it in the middle of the table. At the end of the night, whoever had ripped the most pieces of bread would win.

Margaret, a smart woman who knew that her reputation preceded her, could have been playing into the role.

After all, she had a “small circle of lifelong friends, loyal to the last”, Craig writes. So perhaps the outrageous behavior was her parting gift to other hosts, a story to dine out on for years to come.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.