The Real Reason Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon Ended Their Scandalous Marriage

When we think of the royal family today, we’re flooded with adorable photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s little ones, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s happy marriage, and the queen smiling at her world-famous events. But the royals didn’t always have such a squeaky-clean image. Back when Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Princess Margaret, was alive, she knew how to cause a scene with her glamorous lifestyle, excessive drinking, and constant need to party.

While Princess Margaret loved to head out onto the town with other socialites, she did end up marrying one man, Antony Armstrong-Jones. Dubbed Lord Snowdon after their wedding, his tumultuous relationship with Margaret ended with a bang. Here’s why it all went down in flames.

Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret kept their relationship a secret

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones | AFP/Getty Images

Princess Margaret wasn’t necessarily the secretive type — but when it came to Antony Armstrong-Jones, she perfectly kept their love life under wraps. Town & Country reminds us prior to her fling with Antony, she was engaged to (and very much in love with) Captain Peter Townsend. Unfortunately, Margaret cut off her engagement because Captain Townsend had been divorced in the past, which made for messy legal issues as the time. She later went for Antony after meeting him at a dinner party and then having him commissioned to photograph her.

Margaret and Antony’s relationship went totally undetected by others for awhile. Anne de Courcy, his royal biographer, recounts to Daily Mail Online, “His engagement to Princess Margaret, for instance, was the best-kept royal secret of the last century, a courtship so clandestine that no one, bar a very few, knew of it.” Finally, Margaret and Antony wed in 1960, and he was dubbed Lord Snowdon by Margaret’s sister, the queen.

Both Margaret and Snowdon had countless affairs

Princess Margaret with her husband and kids
Princess Margaret (R), Lord Snowdon (L), and Viscount Linley (2nd, L) pose for a photograph with Margaret’s infant daughter Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones | Getty Images/Staff

The marriage seemed happy at first, but it wasn’t long before things fell apart. Both Margaret and Snowdon had strong personalities — and when Snowdon began to put his work life ahead of his relationship with his wife (and children), their bond suffered. Not only that, but de Courcy noted to Daily Mail Online that Snowdon wanted little to do with royal life. This actively upset Margaret.

With both Margaret and Snowdon fed up with their marriage, this led to several affairs from both parties. Her flings were with pianist Robin Douglas-Home and her husband’s friend, Anthony Barton. As for Snowdon, Town & Country notes he pursued casual flings while photographing clients. De Courcy notes Margaret “wanted to feel desired,” and that’s why she was unfaithful. And even with her own affairs, knowledge of what her husband was doing behind her back still upset her.

He allegedly left hateful notes around their home for Margaret to find

As Snowdon and Margaret’s marital issues became more extreme over the years, it appears Snowdon went out of his way to make Margaret feel bad about herself. According to de Courcy, Snowdon would leave hate notes around their home — and one even said Margaret looked like a Jewish manicurist, The Guardian reports. Margaret would eventually find these notes, of course, but that didn’t stop the cruelty of her husband. They eventually settled on a divorce in 1978, which, even before they wed, everyone could see coming. While the royal family generally liked Lord Snowdon, others had serious doubts regarding how long their union would last.

Even after their divorce, they remained friends until Margaret’s death

The bridal group at Buckingham Palace May 6, 1960 at the wedding of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones.
Princess Margaret Wedding Day |Getty Images

After years of bad health stemming from her alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking, Margaret died in 2002. And though they had a seriously troubled marriage in their youth, Town & Country reports she and Snowdon were friendly after the divorce and before her death. As de Courcy mentioned, “They always maintained a solid friendship, once the bitterness of the divorce was over.”

Here’s something Margaret probably didn’t know: Snowdon had a love child with his best friend’s wife. It was confirmed years after Margaret’s death that the child was, in fact, his. Today, Polly Fry, Snowdon’s mysterious daughter, is 58. We’re not sure how this would have changed the dynamic of Margaret and Snowdon’s relationship, but we’re guessing it may have caused even more scandal at the time.

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