After being engaged once before, Princess Margaret eventually found love again in 1958. Princess Margaret's husband was Antony Armstrong-Jones, a photographer, and most importantly, a commoner. Their marriage was historic for many reasons, although their 18-year marriage was littered with infidelity. From their secret engagement to their eventual deaths, here is everything you need to know about Princess Margaret and husband Antony Armstrong-Jones's relationship.
- Princess Margaret wed photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960.
- The couple welcomed two children together: Viscount David Linley and Lady Sarah.
- Both the princess and Antony participated in extramarital affairs throughout their marriage, leading to their eventual divorce in 1978.
- While Antony remarried (and then divorced), the couple remained close until Princess Margaret's passing in 2002.
1957: Photographing the Queen
Antony Armstrong-Jones was first introduced to the Royal Family when he was commissioned to take portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and their children at Buckingham Palace. The following year, the photographer first met Princess Margaret at a dinner party thrown by the princess's lady-in-waiting, Lady Elizabeth Cavendish.
1958: A Secret Romance
However, their romance wouldn't officially ignite until later in 1958, when Antony was hired to photograph Princess Margaret. "I enjoyed his company very much, but I didn’t take a lot of notice of him because I thought he was queer," the young royal later admitted to biographer Christopher Warwick. Their courtship was kept under wraps, however, and the princess would secretly visit him at his studio. "Yes, he would join her at parties, but no one could pinpoint which man she was interested in," said author Anne de Courcy. The press focused more on the ones who were seen to be eligible. They didn't think of Tony who was often in the background."
But their relationship wasn't the only thing Antony tried to keep secret. Reports say the photographer was unfaithful during their courtship, specifically with Jacqueline Chan and model Gina Ward.
October 1959: Late-Night Proposal
While the couple wouldn't announce their engagement until months later, Antony reportedly proposed to the princess the same day she learned that her former fiancé, Captain Peter Townsend, was getting remarried. The royal eventually told parliament member Jonathan Aitken, "I received a letter from Peter in the morning and that evening I decided to marry Tony. I didn't really want to marry at all. Why did I? Because he asked me! Really, though, he was such a nice person in those days. In a way he introduced me to a new world."
February 27, 1960: A Royal Engagement
Princess Margaret and Antony's engagement wasn't made public until February 27, 1960. Designed by her future husband, Princess Margaret's flower-shaped engagement ring featured a ruby surrounded by diamonds.
May 6, 1960: A Historic Royal Wedding
Their May 6, 1960 wedding was historic in more ways than one. The marriage marked the first time a king's daughter wed a commoner in centuries. And second, it was the first televised nuptials—watched by over 20 million people. Held at Westminister Abbey, Princess Margaret's brother-in-law, Prince Philip, escorted her down the aisle as her father, King George VI had passed away eight years prior. Following the wedding, Antony was given the titled Earl of Snowdon and Princess Margaret became the Countess of Snowdon.
May 28, 1960: One of Many Affairs
While the newlyweds were honeymooning, the Earl fathered a secret daughter, Polly Fry. His relation to the child wasn't revealed until 2008, however, when a DNA test confirmed his paternity following years of rumors.
November 3, 1961: Viscount David Linley Is Born
In 1961 the married couple welcomed their first child together, a son named Viscount David Linley, 2nd Earl of Snowdon.
May 1, 1964: Lady Sarah Is Born
In 1964, Princess Margaret and husband Antony welcomed their second child, a daughter named Lady Sarah Frances Elizabeth Armstrong-Jones (now Chatto).
1966: More Affairs
Just like the beginning of their relationship, their marriage wasn't without infidelity. While Antony was the first to be unfaithful (his work as a photographer brought him on long trips abroad), Princess Margaret had affairs of her own. Her first extramarital relationship occurred in 1966 with Antony Barton—a wine producer and Lady Sarah's godfather—while her husband was away in India. She also mingled with Robin Douglas-Home and others that were never confirmed.
September 1973: A New Relationship
In 1973, Princess Margaret embarked on her most significant affair. The princess began a relationship with gardener Roddy Llewellyn—17 years her younger—after meeting at a house party. The relationship would go on to last eight years.
March 19, 1976: The Couple Separates
While the princess was in a relationship with Llewellyn, she announced her separation from Antony on March 19, 1976. Buckingham Palace said at the time, "HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, and the Earl of Snowdon have mutually agreed to live apart. The Princess will carry out her public duties and functions unaccompanied by Lord Snowdon. There are no plans for divorce proceedings."
1978: Officially Divorced
In 1978, Princess Margaret and Antony's divorce was finalized.
December 15, 1978: A New Marriage for Snowdon
Not long after the divorce, Antony married film production assistant Lucy Lindsay-Hogg. The couple would eventually give birth to a daughter in 1979. However, Antony and Lindsay-Hogg divorced in 2000 after it was revealed that the Earl fathered another child out of wedlock in 1998.
October 8, 1993: Reuniting for Their Son
Princess Margaret and Antony attended their son Viscount Linley's wedding to Serena Stanhope on October 8, 1993. Even after the divorce, the couple remained close.
July 14, 1994: Another Wedding Reunion
The exes reunited yet again for their daughter Lady Sarah's wedding to Daniel Chatto. The royal wedding was held on July 14, 1994, in London.
February 9, 2002: Princess Margaret Passes Away
Princess Margaret passed away peacefully on February 9, 2002.
January 13, 2017: Antony Passes Away
Buckingham Palace confirmed that Princess Margaret's ex-husband Antony passed away on January 13, 2017, at the age of 86.