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HomeRoyalsRoyal Scandals: Inside the Doomed Relationship of Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend

Royal Scandals: Inside the Doomed Relationship of Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend

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The royal family has had several controversial periods in history that rocked the foundation of the monarchy, and one of these was the doomed love story of the late Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend. 

The British royal family is one of the most famous households globally and a preserver of history. Amid the long line of historical events lies the sordid love story of Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, and Group Captain Peter Townsend.  

Margaret, a young Princess and third in line to the throne at the time, and divorced royal equerry, Peter Townsend, were hardly the perfect match as far as the royal family was concerned. By virtue of this, the pair’s love story fizzled out under pressure. Here’s a look through what is considered one of the most heart-wrenching love stories in historical real-time. 

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Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon on wedding way in 1960. Image: Pinterest

Princess Margaret and Townsend’s Love Story

Peter Townsend, who was a war hero, returned to England as a royal equerry and the private staff member of King George VI. After King George’s death, Townsend retained his position as equerry for Queen Elizabeth II for one year.

However, while he carried out his duty without fault, Townsend came to be faced with a profound dilemma, one that tied him to the Queen’s vibrant younger sister, Princess Margaret. During the years that Townsend handled the affairs of the royal family, he and Margaret became close.

Following the King’s death, their relationship blossomed into romance. The duo kept it away from the public for a while, but rumors about their affair gained traction after Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation.

The paparazzi photographed Margaret picking a piece of fluff off Townsend’s coat during the coronation party. The image was published in the papers together with speculations that the pair could be thinking of marriage.

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Further speculations also questioned the new Queen’s position if the two made such a decision, considering how Townsend was a divorcee. A few years prior to that, Townsend legally ended his first marriage on accounts of infidelity on his ex-wife’s part.

Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend. Image: Pinterest

The Lovebirds Were Separated For Two Years

There was an uproar surrounding Townsend and Margaret’s love so much that they gained popularity among the people. But, as rumors of them planning to get married morphed into reality, Queen Elizabeth was torn between. 

This was because, as the head of the royal family and the head of the church, the Queen could not assent to the union between her younger sister and divorced Peter Townsend. Also, because Margaret was below 25, the decision for her marriage was left to the Queen.

In a bid to lessen the drama and press attention surrounding the couple, Queen Elizabeth sent Townsend to Brussels, where he worked as an air attache. This was pending the two-year period before Margaret turned 25. 

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Group Captain Peter Townsend. Image: Pinterest

Princess Margaret Ended Her Relationship With Townsend.

It is believed that the Princess concluded in her heart to put the Crown before her love. However, all that remains as speculations and reliance on royal experts. By 1955, Margaret’s 25th birthday was fast-approaching, and once again, tongues wagged about the possible outcome of her romance with Townsend. 

By Margaret’s birthday, she became free of Queen Elizabeth’s clause, but not quite, because the Parliament under Anthony Eden’s governance decided otherwise. Margaret still needed the consent of the parliament, and her wish to marry Townsend was heavily frowned upon. 

Through the tussle, the lively Princess was given an ultimatum. The parliament posited that she either renounces her succession to the throne or discontinues her relationship with her love interest. All the while, it was thought that the Queen prompted Margaret to give it up for “the Firm.”

However, it would later be revealed that Princess Margaret seemed to have had a personal conviction not to marry Townsend. On October 31, 1955, Margaret released a statement putting an end to their affair. She addressed:

“‘I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend. 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.”

According to historian Kate Williams, Queen Elizabeth II continuously tried to pursue her sister’s happiness while the saga was on. Finally, the Queen found a loophole in the divorcee clause, but it was thwarted by the parliament. 

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Image: Pinterest

Who Did Princess Margaret Marry?

After the royal family waved the tumultuous moments, it took the Princess five years to find another love interest. Who was Princess Margaret married to?

The famed royal married society photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones became Lord Snowdon upon their marriage in 1960. Townsend went on to marry Marie-Luce Jamagne, with whom he had three children. 

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon welcomed two children, and after 18 years of being together, they called things off. However, it is noteworthy that their union broke records. 

It made Lord Snowdon the first commoner to join the royal family in marriage for the first time in 400 years. Their marriage was also the first royal wedding to be televised. 

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