This royal is responsible for inventing horoscopes - the stranger-than-fiction details

If you’ve ever checked your daily horoscopes, you have Princess Margaret to thank

In news you might not know, Princess Margaret helped invent horoscopes
(Image credit: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

If you’ve ever flicked to the horoscope pages to see why you’re having such a lousy (or lucky) day, you actually have Princess Margaret to thank. Stats from 2020 found that 70 million Americans read their horoscopes daily, and this all dates back to the birth of Princess Margaret. Someone was commissioned to foresee important milestones in the Princess’ life based on her stars, and some came scarily true, including the prediction her seventh year would be life changing. That would turn out to be the year her grandfather died, her uncle abdicated and her father became king - a lucky guess or proof of the power of astrology? 

The 1930s saw many world-changing inventions. From practical, everyday items (scotch tape, Birdseye’s frozen food process) to feats of innovative engineering and creativity (the helicopter, the electric guitar).

1930 also saw the birth of Princess Margaret. The Queen’s younger sister was born on August 21 that year, and her birth wasn’t just coincidental to another invention, it was actually the reason behind it.

Margaret’s birth is the reason every newspaper, magazine or - for modern audiences - websites offer a horoscope reading.

The birth of Princess Margaret in 1930 was celebrated with a special reading of the stars

(Image credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

How? It’s a fascinating story of shrewd marketing, serendipity and, depending on your stance, testament to the power of the cosmos.

The editor of the Sunday Express at the time needed a new way to celebrate the birth of a new Princess.

Struggling to think of something new, he decided to reach out to Cheiro. William John Warner, better known as Cheiro, was an Irish astrologer and occult figure revered in the early 20th century. He was considered one of the foremost astrologers, and he would go on to (sort of) predict the sinking of the Titanic.

Cheiro's palm readings with William Pirrie, chairman of Harland and Wolf, builders of the Titanic. Cheiro predicted that he would soon be in a fight for his life, talking (indirectly) about the battle surrounding the Titanic sinking.

One of the predictions for Princess Margaret was scarily accurate

(Image credit: Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

However, Cheiro wasn’t available. Instead, his assistant R.H.Naylor stepped up to the plate. He wrote a column titled “What the Stars Foretell for the New Princess.”

The article proved immensely popular, inspiring Naylor to do monthly predictions. Because of the success of one of his later predictions – where he said a British aircraft would be in danger between October 8 and 15, and one did indeed crash on October 5 – he was commissioned to start doing regular horoscopes.

It was much different trying to condense all the stars in the galaxy for a regular reading for every person, though. So Naylor divided the sun’s 360 degree transit into twelve zones, each spanning thirty degrees. 

These twelve zones received a name from different celestial constellations. And then each of these blocks got a daily prediction from Naylor following similar patterns he deployed for his first ever Margaret article. 

This simplified system of astrology allowed twelve forecasts to be made based purely on reader's birth dates, instead of the more complex methodologies of astrology previously used. 

And this is how we now get our daily updates, whether you’re a Leo, a Taurus so on and so forth.

Princess Margaret is the reason the sun sign horoscope readings became a regular occurrence

(Image credit: Les Lee/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The most important question you might be wondering was whether any of Margaret’s predictions came true. And, eerily, they did.

Perhaps the most hard to argue was Naylor’s prediction that something of importance would happen in the Princess’ seventh year, which was 1936.

1936 saw the death of Margaret’s grandfather, the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII and the coronation of her father.

That year changed the course of their families lives, with her sister now the heir to the throne.

Naylor got it right, and we ended up with every newspaper commissioning their own mystics and astrologers to provide a daily horoscope.

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.