Who Was Queen Elizabeth II’s Sister, Princess Margaret?

Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Princess Margaret could not have been more different than Her Majesty. Known for her rebellious behavior, the Countess of Snowdon was one of the most popular royals in history. Up ahead, we take a closer look at the late princess’s life, including her relationship with her queen sister.

Princess Margaret in a tub
Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Princess Margaret was famous for her rebellious ways. | Getty Images/Hulton Archive

She was born in Scotland

Princess Margaret was different since birth. After all, she was the first member of the British royal family to be born in Scotland in over 300 years. The queen’s younger sister was born at Glamis Castle in Scotland on August 21, 1930.

Her parents wanted to name her Ann

Prince Albert (later King George VI) and his wife Elizabeth Bowes Lyon wanted to name their youngest daughter Ann, but King George V (Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret’s grandfather) did not approve of the name. The royal parents instead named her Margaret Rose, or “Margot,” as those close to her would later call her.

Her wedding was the first royal wedding broadcasted on national television

In 1960, Princess Margaret married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. Their wedding was the first British royal wedding broadcasted on national television, marking a new tradition within the royal family. Since then, many royals have said “I do” in front of cameras, including Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Kate Middleton and Prince William, and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret were close

Despite their differences — in both their personalities and royal responsibilities — Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret had a close relationship. According to Vanity Fair, Princess Margaret had a direct phone line to Buckingham Palace at her desk in Kensington Palace so that she could call her sister often.

Princess Margaret was Queen Elizabeth II’s bridesmaid

When Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip in 1947, her younger sister was a bridesmaid in her wedding. And, when Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones, Queen Elizabeth II gifted her a 20-room apartment in Kensington Palace.

Princess Margaret worried about the queen’s approval

Despite their close relationship, Princess Margaret worried about her sister’s approval. She reportedly even had nightmares of her disappointing her sister.

Her famous love affair

When Princess Margaret was in her early twenties, she sparked up a relationship with Captain Peter Townsend, who was 16 years older than her and a commoner. According to reports, Townsend had a wife and kids when they met. Their relationship was often noted as an affair. However, Townsend divorced his wife in 1952, which was likely around the same time he and Princess Margaret grew close.

She chose her duty to the Commonwealth over her first love

In 1953, Townsend proposed to Princess Margaret, but Queen Elizabeth asked her sister to wait a few years and they agreed to marry when Margaret turned 25. However, as the date approached, Princess Margaret chose her duty to the Commonwealth over her love for Townsend and released this statement:

“I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend. I have been aware that, subject to my renouncing my rights of succession, it might have been possible for me to contract a civil marriage.

“But mindful of the Church’s teaching that Christian marriage is indissoluble and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before any others.”

Health problems

In her later life, the princess experienced a number of health problems. She passed away on February 9, 2002 after experiencing a stroke that resulted in cardiac problems. The princess was 71-years-old.

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