Born: 21 August 1930
Died: 9 February 2002 (stroke)
Birthplace: Glamis Castle, Scotland
Best known as: Sister to Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Margaret was the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II and for a brief time was second in line to the British throne. Her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne when Margaret was six, and her father became King George VI. (Elizabeth became Queen in 1952 and bore an heir of her own, Prince Charles, in 1948.) Princess Margaret's doomed romance with Group Captain Peter Townsend, a World War II hero and equerry to the queen, was a source of tremendous gossip and rumor; he was divorced, which in those times made him unsuitable for royal marriage. (Edward VIII had himself stepped down to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.) The romance began in 1953 and lasted for two years. But after her sister, now Queen Elizabeth II, refused to give her blessing to the marriage, Princess Margaret announced publicly in 1955 that she would not marry Townsend. She married photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones (later Lord Snowdon) on 6 May 1960 and they had two children: David Albert Charles (known as Viscount Linley, b. 1961) and Sarah Armstong-Jones (b. 1964). Margaret was known for her interest in the arts, especially the ballet, and she and Lord Snowdon were popular members of the "jet set" society of the 1960s. The couple separated in 1976 and were divorced on 24 May 1978. In later years Margaret spent much of her time at her home on the Caribbean island of Mustique.
According to her BBC obituary, Princess Margaret was “the first royal to divorce since Henry VIII“… In her 1955 statement on Peter Townsend, Princess Margaret said in part: “I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend… Mindful of the Church’s teaching that marriage is indissoluble and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations above all others”… She died less than two months before the death of her mother, Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
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