Former Royal Employee Recalls How Princess Margaret Used Her Servants as ‘Human Ashtrays’

Members of the royal family have a large number of people they employ who are at their beck and call from maids to chauffeurs to butlers. While most people figure their aides are given some strict or bizarre rules they’re expected to follow some are so outrageous they still manage to surprise us.

Queen Elizabeth II‘s late sister, Princess Margaret, didn’t have the best reputation among the staffers for her attitude and how difficult she could be to deal with. Now, a former employee is revealing what it was like working for the royals and how Margaret mistreated her servants.

Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret | Mike Lawn/Fox Photos/Getty Images

Former staffers recount working in royal households

The Express reported that a documentary titled Royal Servants gives the public insight into some of what went on behind closed doors and how members of Britain’s most famous family treat the people who worked for them.

The former palace staffers said the Queen Mother was one of the best to work for. They also spoke about who was the most demanding and what tasks they would have them perform.

In the past, several aides explained that Prince Charles was among the most pampered and gives outlandish demands, but he may have got that from his aunt who did so as well.

Princess Margaret treated staffers like they were ashtrays

Princess Margaret getting a light for her cigarette
Princess Margaret getting a light for her cigarette | Central Press/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Princess Margaret was a heavy smoker. The queen’s younger sister would smoke around 60 cigarettes a day and reportedly couldn’t be bothered with trying to find a place to flick her ashes so she used her servants as “human ashtrays.”

Peter Russell, who was a royal servant between 1954 and 1968, claimed that the princess would have someone follow her around at all times and hold an ashtray in their hands for her to use.

“Of course, at a banquet for instance or a big social occasion, it meant you had to dance attendance on her all night long,” Russell said. “Possibly to be just standing to her left or right with an ashtray, so she didn’t have to look to see where she flicked her ash.”

The princess’ friends says there was another side to her

The woman staffers nicknamed Her Rude Highness may always be remembered by some for her smoking, extramarital affairs, and partying ways. But one of her friends wants the world to know there was another side to the Countess of Snowdon.

Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret | John Stillwell – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Anne Glenconner, who was Princess Margaret’s confidant and lady-in-waiting knows what’s been said and written about her friend so she has decided to tell the story about the person she knew.

The Express noted that in her memoir Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown, Glenconner wrote that Margaret did a lot of good for many people but she did it without the media present.

The BBC reported that in the ’80s, when not much was known about AIDS and how it could be contracted, Princess Diana had contact with a patient who had the virus. Glenconner revealed that Margaret did the same thing when her son, Henry, was diagnosed with AIDS.

“She always came to stay, she always hugged Henry. She would come with me to the lighthouse, which is a place for young men who are dying of AIDS, quite often on their own, because their parents wouldn’t have anything to do with them or their partners have died.”

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