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While some royal family members work hard to always be on their best behavior when in the public eye, others, like the party-loving Princess Margaret, earned a reputation for living a lavish life on her own terms, according to Biography. As the younger sibling of Queen Elizabeth II, the Countess of Snowdon never had the same royal expectations pushed on her the way that her sister did, and as such, Margaret took full advantage of being the spare. Still, despite being a fan of dancing, singing, playing the piano, and gossiping, the princess’ reportedly questionable attitude towards some of her guests led many to consider her to be a hellish person to have at a party.
According to various accounts, Margaret had no problem speaking up when someone or something irritated her. For example, one of the royal’s former party guests claimed that during a game of Trivial Pursuit, the princess grew frustrated when someone corrected one of her answers. "She got so furious that she tossed the whole board in the air, sending all the pieces flying everywhere." However, it wasn’t just her friends that ended up on the receiving end of the royal’s questionable conduct. Margaret was also said to enjoy insulting the work of artists whom she disliked and even made eyebrow-raising insults to various celebrities like Twiggy, Grace Kelly, and Judy Garland. With plenty of shocking moments and memorable events throughout her lifetime, there’s no shortage of wild stories about Princess Margaret.
Princess Margaret’s morning involved a vodka pick-me-up and half a bottle of wine
While there’s no question that the royal lifestyle is a glamorous one, Princess Margaret’s daily routine definitely took the concept of luxury to the next level. Vogue — which reiterated the Countess of Snowdon’s day from the biography "Ma’am Darling 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret" by Craig Brown — recanted this royal member’s morning as truly indulgent. Reportedly, the princess would initially wake up at 9 a.m. for "breakfast in bed, followed by two hours in bed listening to the radio, reading the newspapers (which she invariably left scattered over the floor), and chain-smoking."
According to an excerpt of the book tweeted in 2017, Margaret would then enjoy an hour-long bath at 11 a.m., after which she would do her hair and makeup before getting dressed for the day. "As one would imagine of a Princess, she never wore any of her clothes more than once without having them cleaned." Then, at exactly 12:30 p.m., it would be time for her "vodka pick-me-up." Afterward, the princess would eat a four-course lunch downstairs, complete with fruit, an array of cheeses, and a half bottle of wine. Though it likely will not sound relatable to the vast majority of non-royals, there’s no questioning that the Countess of Snowdon’s morning involved an unquestionable amount of pampering truly worthy of a princess.
The party-loving Princess Margaret became legendary for her behavior
As a member of the British royal family, there was always plenty of attention on Margaret throughout her life. According to The Sun, the Countess of Snowdon was known for her controversial behavior. She was reportedly nasty to various members of her staff as well as her own family members. Notably, the outlet recounted the words of Sir Roy Strong, who was a frequent guest at the princess’ dinner parties. In his diary, Strong reflected on the royal’s public image, noting that in the ’60s, Margaret’s attitude wasn’t widely known to the masses.
"It is a curious fact that if she had died in the middle of the 1960s, the response would have been akin to that on the death of Diana." He went on to add, "As it was, she lived long enough for the bitter truth about her to become general knowledge. The way she behaved was so inconsiderate that I really couldn’t stand any more of it." Similarly, it was reported that Princess Margaret once snapped at a pregnant woman for trying to sit down, saying, "One does not sit before royalty sits." She also allegedly vetoed an Indian guest from one of her events because she "didn’t like Indians." If that wasn’t bad enough, she once told a disabled man, "Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and seen the way you walk?"
She played the bread game when she was bored at dinner parties
While Margaret became quite infamous for her love of socializing, there were plenty of times when she grew tired of some of her own guests’ behaviors. Per Evening Standard, the princess’ now ex-husband, photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones (otherwise known as Earl of Snowdon), stated years after the fact that he and Margaret used to have a neat trick for keeping themselves busy when she became bored by the guests’ conversations during dinner parties.
According to Armstrong-Jones, the then-royal couple would play what they called the "bread game." Whenever one of the dinner attendees said something cliché, either Margaret or Armstrong-Jones would rip off a piece of bread and move it toward the middle of the table. At the end of the dinner, the person with the most pieces would be considered the winner. The outlet added that the whole point of the couple’s shenanigans was to poke fun at the silly exchanges from dinner guests without anyone else being aware of what they were doing. It definitely sounds like an inventive way to entertain yourself during dinner.
Princess Margaret allegedly shaded supermodel Twiggy
Margaret wasn’t just well known for her sometimes questionable attitude. As the younger sibling to the British monarch, Margaret was also reportedly quite spoiled by her parents, and unlike her sister, she didn’t face the same pressure to be on her best behavior. Considered by some to be unnecessarily rude, Honey stated that one of the Countess of Snowdon’s notable encounters was her meet with the iconic English supermodel Twiggy in the mid-1960s.
According to the outlet, the incident occurred at a London dinner party during which Margaret was seated next to the famous model. Though plenty of fashionistas would have likely been overjoyed at the chance to chat with Twiggy, Honey reported that writer Julie Miller reportedly stated that the princess wasn’t impressed by her dinner companion. Additionally, Miller also claimed that she ignored the supermodel for two whole hours before ever attempting to engage with her. Allegedly, when the Countess of Snowdon finally spoke, she began by asking Twiggy, "Who are you?" to which the model replied, "I’m Lesley Hornby, ma’am. But people call me Twiggy." Still, Margaret was said to be impassive by the icon and said back, "How unfortunate," before going back to ignoring Twiggy and doing so for the rest of the night.
Princess Margaret made shocking comments to Hollywood stars
There were plenty other celebrities who received brutal treatment from the Countess of Snowdon, including Hollywood’s dazzling stars. As stated by Express, the queen’s little sister once insulted Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor, inquiring about the actor’s stunning 33.19 carat Krupp diamond ring. Margaret allegedly mocked the size of the diamond, calling it "very vulgar." Even more surprising, the princess also requested to try on the ring, to which Taylor allegedly replied, "Not so vulgar now, is it?"
Similarly, Honey noted that Margaret made a bold comment about actor Grace Kelly, allegedly telling her upon their meeting, "You don’t look like a movie star." Another one of the princess’ controversial celebrity interactions happened in 1986 when actor Rupert Everett joined the Countess of Snowdon and her staff for a night at the theater. The actor claimed, "She was like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland." Everett also stated that the princess told him he had "marvelous legs" and kept referring to him as "leggy." Still, that’s not as shocking as her meeting with Judy Garland in 1965. While visiting the U.S., Margaret attended an event where Garland was present and the royal reportedly demanded that the star provide her with entertainment. However, it remains alleged that Garland held her own and stated that the "nasty, rude little princess" should ask her directly.
She was very fond of smoking
Though Margaret held a reputation for being the life of the party, her glamorous lifestyle also included some vices that ultimately led to serious health issues. According to The Sun, the Countess of Snowdon was known to enjoy vodka, scotch, and whisky, in addition to her chain-smoking habit — to which reportedly included smoking 60 cigarettes a day. While the outlet stated that the princess faced various health issues throughout her life (which initially began in her mid-teens), these concerns only proved to become more severe during her later adult life. For example, in January 1985, Margaret had a part of her left lung removed due to a cancer scare. The tissue was later reportedly found to be nonmalignant.
After the procedure, the royal’s ex-husband Armstrong-Jones publicly stated that he was "very relieved that everything went all right and that it was not something serious," the outlet reported. Despite the scare, the Countess of Snowdon continued her smoking habit, rejecting advice from doctors and family members to quit. However, she supposedly cut her daily usage in half. Later in 1992, Margaret came down with a "feverish cold" and was hospitalized with pneumonia months later. Although she ultimately recovered, the princess would later suffer from multiple strokes and eventually have a peaceful passing in 2002 after experiencing cardiac issues following one last stroke, according to Express.
She reportedly kept her dinner guests waiting
Though Margaret clearly loved being a party princess, Biography noted that the Countess of Snowdon preferred to do so on her own terms. Similarly, the informational source reiterated a comment from "Princess Margaret: A Biography," revealing that there were plenty of people who didn’t appreciate the princess’ behavior. As one individual stated, "I have been at the same house parties as her and her arrogance, her petulance, her rudeness, and her plain bad manners were awful." Nevertheless, despite her bad behavior, the princess still managed to captivate others with her vibrant spirit throughout her life.
However, Margaret also had a mischievous side and used the rules of royal protocol — which stated that a meal couldn’t begin till she arrived — to her advantage and reportedly liked to keep her dinner guests waiting, according to the outlet. Most notably, while in Paris in 1959, Margaret forced her guests to wait for her at a party held in her honor, and some of them definitely weren’t pleased. Writer and aristocrat Nancy Mitford, who recalled the event, wrote in her book "Love from Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Milford," "Dinner was at 8:30 and at 8:30 Princess Margaret’s hairdresser arrived, so we waited for hours while he concocted a ghastly coiffure." Miller added, "She looked like a huge ball of fur on two well-developed legs."
She had an affair with Peter Townsend
There’s no question that Margaret lived a glamorous life that was filled with plenty of memorable moments and events, one of which was her romance with Group Captain Peter Townsend. As noted by Town & Country, numerous reports stated that Townsend initially met the teen princess when he applied to work for her father, then-King George VI. Townsend later recalled their meeting, saying Margaret was "as unremarkable as one would expect of a 14-year-old girl." However, they would later become romantically involved eight years later when the Countess of Snowdon was 22, with a 16-year age gap separating the two lovers.
While the pair tried to keep their relationship private, the media continued to report on the speculation surrounding the duo, fueling the rumors of the royal romance. But ultimately, it was the couple’s wish to tie the knot that led to a public conflict. According to the outlet, Townsend’s prior divorce in 1952 disqualified him from being able to marry the princess (the Church of England, as well as the U.K. Parliament, were against the possibility of the pair getting wed). Then in 1955, the government announced that if the princess wished to wed Townsend, she would lose all of her royal privileges, including paid expenses. That same year, Margaret gave a public statement saying that she would put her royal duties before her personal life and would not marry Townsend.
Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon were both notorious for their affairs
According to Town & Country, after her romance with Captain Peter Townsend officially ended, Margaret began a relationship with Armstrong-Jones. The pair first met in 1958, and after getting her family’s approval, the pair’s engagement was announced on February 26, 1960. They were married on May 6, 1960, and were the first televised royal wedding. The couple initially appeared to be happy during the early years of their marriage and even had two children (David in 1961 and Sarah three years after). However, their similar personalities ultimately led to friction between the formerly blissful pair, and from there, both began to have affairs with other people.
As stated by the Evening Standard, when he was away from his family for work assignments, the Earl of Snowdon began to have casual affairs, as did Margaret. Most notably, the princess was involved with Armstrong-Jones’ college friend Anthony Barton, who was also the godfather to the royal couple’s daughter Sarah. She also had a fling with an aristocratic nightclub pianist named Robin Douglas-Home. Later in 1969, Armstrong-Jones began a serious romance with Lady Jacqueline Rufus-Isaacs, which reportedly was a deep upset to Margaret even though she was also unfaithful. Finally, in 1976, the royal couple separated and officially divorced two years later. However, despite the clear problems during their marriage, it was reported that the former couple remained good friends.
Princess Margaret had multiple celebrity affairs
According to The Sun, some of the Countess of Snowdon’s most memorable love affairs were with celebrities. These famous flings reportedly included actor Peter Sellers and actor and novelist David Niven. She also had an eight-year love affair with actor Peter O’Toole, who she initially met in 1965. Margaret was said to have started the relationship with O’Toole five years after she had married Antony Armstrong-Jones. O’Toole later spoke out about the pair’s affair, claiming that when the couple wasn’t getting intimate, they would bathe together in a tub filled with scented water and flowers.
The outlet added that the princess also had a connection to London gangster-turned-actor John Bindon. The pair were once photographed on vacation together, with Bindon wearing a shirt that read "Enjoy Cocaine." Additionally, the media source said that in 1970 Bidon and his then-girlfriend, actor Viki Hodge, attended one of Margaret’s parties. It was then Bindon decided to do something that was more than a little bit shocking, according to Hodge. During a walk on the beach, Hodge claimed that Bindon "took out his appendage. The princess examined it, rather like a fossil. We all gasped."
Princess Margaret posed for scandalous photos
With her controversial behavior, her string of affairs, and her love for a good party, it’s no surprise that Princess Margaret had plenty of headline-making moments throughout her life. As noted by Town & Country, one of the princess’ suggestive photographs (which by modern standards is pretty tame) was recreated in Netflix’s popular series "The Crown." However, the outlet stated that the television portrayal wasn’t exactly true-to-life. In the series, Vanessa Kirby‘s Margaret has a steamy moment with Armstrong-Jones played by actor Matthew Goode, during which she poses for a photograph. Armstrong-Jones’ character pushes off the sleeves of her dress and snaps the picture.
While the show certainly created a heart-racing moment between the pair, the outlet says that in reality, the picture — which does show Margaret in a similar bare shoulder pose and was taken by Armstrong-Jones — was actually the Countess of Snowdon’s 29th birthday portrait. Still, T&C stated that the image ultimately captures the intimate sense of the original. Additionally, according to Express, "The Crown" also recreated a second real-life scandalous photo of the princess that, while similar, wasn’t exactly accurate. This picture is of Margaret’s infamous bathtub photo, which appeared in the Netflix drama’s third season with Helena Bonham Carter’s Margaret posing in a bubble-filled tub wearing nothing but a tiara on her head. The actual photo, however, was taken by Armstrong-Jones, not another photographer, and there were also no bubbles in the picture.