16 remarkable facts about Princess Margaret that will make you look at the royal in a new light

Thought Prince Harry was the naughtiest royal? Think again...

Princess Margaret in hat smiling
(Image credit: Les Lee/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

It's never been a secret that Princess Magaret was the original rebel of the royal family but The Crown fully quashed any doubts we may have had. In fact, if you've been wondering how true The Crown is and whether Margaret Windsor's life really was as sensational in reality as it appears on screen, we've got news for you: the private life of the queen's sister was more scandalous. 

Read on to discover 16 things you didn't know about the so-called 'party princess'. Prince Harry really has nothing on the original wayward royal sibling...

1. Princess Margaret was her father's joy

Margaret and Elizabeth's father, King George VI, described Elizabeth as his "pride" and Margaret, known as "Margot" as his "joy". 

2. She did have an affair with Captain Peter Townsend

Princess Margaret really did have an affair with her father's married equerry, Captain Peter Townsend, who was 16 years her senior. According to palace insiders, the affair began when the young princess was just 17 years old. It ended when she was told that, in order to marry a divorcee, she would have to renounce her royal privileges and leave England for at least five years.

3. Margaret and Peter's relationship was exposed thanks to a piece of fluff

Margaret and Peter's romance was brought to the public's attention when she was caught on camera plucking a piece of fluff from his lapel at her sister's coronation at Westminster Abbey.

4. She refused his marriage proposal

Townsend revealed that Princess Margaret eventually refused his marriage proposal because he "simply hadn't the weight to counterbalance all she would have lost - her position, her prestige, her privy purse". In fact, as was revealed decades later, she could have kept her title and money, but was deliberately misinformed by Churchill's government.

5. Princess Margaret went on to marry at 29

Margaret went on to marry photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones in 1960, at the age of 29, reportedly accepting his proposal just one day after learning that Townsend intended to marry a 19-year-old Belgian woman, allegedly breaking a pact the pair had made that neither would marry anyone else. Townsend's wife, Marie-Luce Jamagne, bore an uncanny resemblance to the princess.

6. Princess Margaret's wedding was the first royal wedding to be broadcast on television

The wedding of Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones (later Earl of Snowdon) was the first royal wedding to be broadcast on television. Only one foreign royal (Queen Ingrid of Denmark) attended the ceremony, amidst widespread disapproval of Margaret's choice of husband.

7. She admired the Queen 

In a recently unearthed Princess Margaret interview from the 1960s, the late royal can be heard showering her older sister with praise. 

"My sister has an aura," she said. "I'm enormously impressed when she walks into a room. It's a kind of magic.

8. She was given land in Mustique as a wedding gift

British aristocrat Colin Tennant gave the princess a 10 acre plot on the island of Mustique as a wedding present. He had purchased the island the previous year, paying £45,000. A nude photograph of Tennant, Roddy Llewellyn (a landscape gardener 17 years Margaret's junior widely reported to be the princess' toyboy) and actor Nicholas Courtney, allegedly taken by Margaret on a Mustique beach, later found its way into a Sunday newspaper.

9. Compromising images of the princess are said to be the reason behind a 1971 bank raid

A £500,000 bank raid (£5 million in today's terms) carried out on a safety deposit box owned by Michael X in 1971 is alleged to have been masterminded by MI5 in order to remove compromising images of the princess.

10. Princess Margaret is said to have had numerous affairs

Princess Margaret is said to have had affairs with Mick Jagger, Peter Sellers, David Niven, Warren Beatty, Anita Pallenberg and Dusty Springfield. Actor and alleged gangster John Bindon claimed to have had a fling with the princess, boasting that he had impressed her with his favourite party trick: balancing five half-pint beer glasses on his manhood.

11. Her husband had a daughter by another woman three weeks into their marriage

Princess Margaret's husband was by no means an angel himself. Anthony Armstrong-Jones had a daughter by another woman just three weeks into their marriage. He was also thought to be bisexual and to have had affairs with at least two male interior designers, Nicholas Haslam and Tom Parr. "If it moves, he'll have it," a friend joked. Charmingly, he is said to have left lists of "things I hate about you" between the pages of his wife's books, one of which supposedly read, "you look like a Jewish manicurist and I hate you."

12. Margaret is said to have used cocaine

Margaret is said to have snorted cocaine from a silver spoon at a Rolling Stones concert in 1967, apparently remarking, "Ah, cocaine. Such an amusing drug, don't you think?"

13. Her divorce made the news

Princess Margaret's 1978 divorce marked the first for a senior royal since Princess Victoria (granddaughter of Queen Victoria) was granted a divorce from Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, on the grounds of "invincible mutual antipathy" by a special verdict of the Supreme Court of Hesse in 1901.

14. She had part of her lung removed

Before Margaret died on 9th February 2002, as the result of a stroke, she had survived two previous strokes, pneumonia, an operation to remove a portion of her left lung and an incident in her own bathtub which left her so badly scalded that she was unable to walk without assistance.

15. Her daughter is a professional artist

Princess Margaret's daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto, is a professional painter. At 17, she was chief bridesmaid at Charles and Diana's wedding.

Lady Sarah Chatto

(Image credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for V&A)

16. Her son dated Susannah Constantine

Margaret's son, David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley, dated Susannah Constantine, of 'Trinny and Susannah' fame. Now married to the Hon. Serena Stanhope, he makes bespoke furnishings that are sold in the likes of Harrods.

Lauren Hughes
Lauren Hughes

Lauren is deputy editor at woman&home.com in the UK and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has worked on the woman&home brand for four years. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine. After starting out working for a local paper in Yorkshire, her journalism career took her to Bristol where she hunted out stories for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant.

Lauren loves helping people share their stories, bringing experiences to life online, honing her interview techniques with everyone from authors to celebrities, headteachers to local heroes. As well as having a good nose for a story, Lauren has a passion for the English language and years of experience optimizing digital content to reach the widest audience possible. During her time at w&h, Lauren has worked on big brand campaigns like the Amazing Women Awards and assisted in developing w&h expert-approved Buyer's Guides—the place to go if you're looking to splash out on an important purchase and want some trusted advice. In addition to her journalism career, Lauren also has a background in copywriting for prestigious brands such as Inhabit Hotel, eco-development K'in in Tulum, social enterprise The Goldfinger Factory and leading London architect Holland Harvey, using language in all its glorious forms, from detailed guidebooks to snappy social content. 

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