Princess Margaret inspired iconic TV character known for her love of booze, smoking, and men

Princess Margaret inspired a TV character with a penchant for hedonism, Champagne, and little regard for anyone but herself and her bestie

Princess Margaret attends a Gala dinner for the AIDS Crisis Trust in London.
(Image credit: Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Princess Margaret inspired a TV character who epitomizes doing all things excess, without giving a damn what anybody thinks. We'll give you a clue - she's rather posh and Absolutely Fabulous. Not guessed it yet? It's the one and only Patsy Stone from the iconic female-led comedy series Absolutely Fabulous.

Joanna Lumley attends press day at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at The Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 23, 2022 in London, England.

(Image credit: Dave Benett/Getty Images)

It's no secret that the Queen's only sister enjoyed a fairly fabulous lifestyle. Princess Margaret's decadent morning routine is so ridiculous it sounds almost made up, all booze and cigarettes and luxury. Tales of Princess Margaret's romances with rock stars and artists would make anyone blush - just like the love life of a certain Miss Stone.

Even with the firm knowledge that the late royal lived life to the full, it's still surprising that Princess Margaret inspired a TV character quite so raucous. 

Interestingly enough, the inspiration didn't come from headlines in red-top newspapers. It actually came from a personal experience that Joanna had with the late Princess.

Princess Margaret (R) speaks to Royal Ballet dancer David Wall in 1978 during a Covent Garden Opera House after the premiere of the ballet, "Mayerling." Buckingham Palace announced that Princess Margaret died peacefully in her sleep at 1:30AM EST at the King Edward VII Hospital February 9, 2002 in London. AND Joanna Lumley holding a bottle of vodka and a cigarette in her famous role of Patsy Stone.

(Image credit: Getty Images AND Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo)

The experience in question happened back in 1986, when Joanna was starring as Elvira in Blithe Spirit at the Vaudeville Theatre. After the show, there was a drinks reception that Princess Margaret was expected to attend. 

Before the booze loving royal even got to the event, things were already a little strange. “At this moment in strange royal life, everybody said, ‘Princess Margaret is not allowed to drink at the moment," said Joanna, per the Mirror. "Do not have any drink in the theatre, and don’t offer her any drink.'"

“I thought, ‘You can’t have a reception with Princess Margaret and not offer any drink. This is insane,'" added the actor. "She was looking pretty bored by the time I arrived.”

American jazz pianist and composer Count Basie (1904-1984) lights a cigarette in its holder for Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930-2002) backstage during the recording of the BBC Television show 'Jazz at the Maltings' at Snape Maltings near Aldeburgh in Suffolk, England on 5th December 1968.

(Image credit: David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images)

We all know that Princess Margaret would keep guests waiting for hours and it appears that she didn't care very much that this party had been waiting for her. The Absolutely Fabulous star revealed that the royal decided to leave the party, via a private box, bringing Joanna and her lady-in-waiting along.

“She left the party, opened her bag, got out a small bottle of whisky and a packet of cigarettes, lit up, cigarette holder, and sat there smoking. She was a kind of prototype Patsy," revealed Joanna.

"There was something so fabulous about her," she added. "So fabulous and so funny.”


(Image credit: VICTORIA JONES / Contributor / Getty Images)

Interestingly enough, more stars of the hit series had their own experiences with Her Royal Highness, including a regular guest on the show - Twiggy. Infamously, Princess Margaret snubbed fashion icon Twiggy in a hilariously awkward moment that she's never forgotten.

Joanna, or should we say Dame Joanna, has developed a close personal relationship with the Royal Family throughout the years. Previously, Joanna Lumley revealed her 'down to earth' moments with the Queen and it's well known that she's close friends with Camilla Queen Consort too.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly woman&home's junior news editor and a contributing writer at Bustle, her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica and EVOKE.

Her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.