Unearthed letter shows how Princess Margaret really felt about marriage to Peter Townsend

She went on to marry Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon

princess margaret in large brimmed hat
(Image credit: Les Lee/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Princess Margaret seemingly had an impossible choice to make in her twenties – between her royal title or the love of her life – but a previously unseen letter shows a different story.

The Queen’s sister’s impossible love was made even more famous with Netflix’s The Crown adaptation of the royal family’s life, and we were left to think she had no choice but to let the love of her life go because she didn’t want to lose her title.

However, a letter sent by Princess Margaret to Prime Minister Anthony Eden at the time – uncovered by The Telegraph – shows that the royal wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to marry Peter.

She wrote at the time, ‘I am writing to tell you, as far as I can of any personal plans during the next few months ... During the last of August and all September I shall be here at Balmoral, and I have no doubt that during this time – especially on my birthday on August 21st – the press will encourage every sort of speculation about the possibility of my marrying Group Captain Peter Townsend.

‘I am not going to see him during this time but in October I shall be returning to London, and he will then be taking his annual leave – I do certainly hope to see him while he is there...

‘But it is only by seeing him in this way that I feel I can properly decide whether I can marry him or not.

peter townsend

(Image credit: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

"At the end of October or early November, I very much hope to be in a position to tell you and the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers what I intend to do."

"The Queen of course knows I am writing to you about this, but of course no one else does, and as everything is so uncertain I know you will regard it certainly as a confidence."

Christopher Warwick, the princess’ official biographer, commented on the information at the time and said it “put a completely different complexion on the accepted version of events”.

He added, “This letter rewrites history, because here you’ve got a very determined and confident young woman in control of the situation, telling the Prime Minister that she has not decided and is wavering, which is at odds with what the public was led to believe and certainly with what she told me.

“The perception was that she gave up the love of her life for duty and protocol, but this letter sets a question mark over that.

“It shows that the love, conceivably, was not as strong as it was to begin with.

“It’s likely she didn’t want anyone other than Eden to know she’d had doubts, because it had gone so far.”

Mariana Cerqueira

Mariana is the editor of My Imperfect Life. She has previously worked for lifestyle titles including GoodtoKnow covering all aspects of women’s lifestyle - from the Royal Family, beauty and fashion to wellness and travel. She was nominated for AOP Digital Journalist of the Year in 2020, and for New Digital Talent of the Year at the 2016 PPA Digital Awards. She’s mildly obsessed with TV (reality TV shows included) and spends far too much time planning her next trip away.