Is Queen Elizabeth the Reason Princess Margaret Died Heartbroken and Alone?

Though the spotlight was often on her sister, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret was a fascinating and vivacious figure in her own right. At a time when royals were meant to be stifled and restrained, Princess Margaret was an outgoing, party girl who had her fair share of scandals in the public eye. As a young child, she would terrorize the court, with her father, King George VI having to drag her to royal events and excursions.

As a young lady, the princess’ reputation was not much better. She carried on a sordid affair with King George VI’s married personal assistant, Captain Peter Townsend that ended in heartbreak, and she had a disastrous marriage to a photographer named Anthony Armstrong-Jones which ended in a bitter divorce. In the end, Princess Margaret, died heartbroken and alone, and the saddest parts of her tumultuous life may have all been her sister, Queen Elizabeth II’s fault.

Princess Margaret in 1951

Princess Margaret in 1951| AFP/Getty Images

In her sister’s shadow

While Queen Elizabeth is more reserved and regal. Her sister, Princess Margaret was named the royal rebel. The princess once said in an interview, “When my sister and I were growing up, she was made out to be the goody-goody one. That was boring so the press tried to make out that I was wicked as hell.” Still, the pair managed to maintain their sisterly bond even when royal rules cost Princess Margaret the love of her life, and Queen Elizabeth’s devotion to the crown forced her to betray her sister.

A sister’s betrayal

The princess was just 17 years old when she began secretly seeing Captin Townsend who was 16 years her senior. The public finally caught on to the love affair, when Princess Margaret was caught on camera, picking a piece of lint off of Townsend’s lapel at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. Townsend got divorced, and Princess Margaret went to her sister to ask for permission to marry him. Though the queen initially agreed, she eventually withdrew her consent. Parliament forbid the pair to marry. If they did, Princess Margaret was told she would lose her royal privileges and would have to leave England for at least five years.

In the end, Townsend married a much younger woman who looked shockingly similar to Princess Margaret while the princess raced down the aisle marry Anthony Armstrong-Jones. That marriage ended in 1978 after both were rumored to have had a string of affairs.

Princess Margaret at the Royal Windsor Horse Show

Princess Margaret at the Royal Windsor Horse Show| Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Heartbroken and alone

When Princess Margaret’s marriage imploded in 1978,  it was the first divorce for a senior member of the royal family since 1901. The divorce nearly cost the princess everything. She was branded a “royal parasite” and treated horribly. Time magazine reported that Margaret’s “increasingly sober face in news pictures seemed to reflect a deeply troubled heart.” As actress Vanessa Kirby who played Princess Margaret in the first two seasons of Netflix’s The Crown said, “In one sense, she had such a voice, but she also wasn’t able to really own what she wanted in her life.”

In the end, Princess Margaret died alone and heartbroken after suffering a slew of health issues from the 1980’s until her death in 2002. She once told a good friend, “I guess I’ll be second best to my grave.”

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