All About Queen Elizabeth's Sister, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

Queen Mother With Queen And Princess Margaret At The Badminton Horse Trials

Tim Graham Photo Library

Princess Margaret led quite an interesting life.

She had impeccable style, often dressing in Christian Dior, and was known as the Rebel Royal and the Queen of Shade. But to her older sister, Queen Elizabeth II, she was just "Margot." The Queen — who was privately called "Lilibet" by those closest to her — and Princess Margaret were beloved by their parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother. In fact, their father famously described them, "Lilibet is my pride; Margaret is my joy."

The Countess of Snowdon "was someone who understood the Queen in a way no one else could," royal biographer Andrew Morton, author of Elizabeth & Margaret: the Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters, told PEOPLE. "They knew each other intimately from the day they were born. There is a unique intimacy between two siblings brought up together, brought up royal together, that is absolutely fascinating."

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She has been compared to her great-nephew Prince Harry, who stepped down as a working royal in 2020 after marrying Meghan Markle. Princess Margaret ultimately chose duty over marriage with the divorced Peter Townsend in 1955, as seen in Netflix's The Crown.

"Margaret put duty before herself," Morton added.

Queen Elizabeth ll and her sister Princess Margaret attend the Epsom Derby on June 06, 1979 in Epsom, England

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In her later years, Princess Margaret experienced health problems and suffered several strokes before her death on Feb. 9, 2002. She was 71 years old.

Here's everything to know about Princess Margaret and her relationship with her sister, Queen Elizabeth.

She often dressed identically to Queen Elizabeth as a child

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) wearing matching outfits at Buckingham Palace

Hulton Archive/Getty

Princess Margaret often dressed in identical outfits with Queen Elizabeth when they were younger. On Mother's Day in the U.K. in March 2022, The Royal Family Instagram account shared a beautiful throwback picture of the sisters and their mother. In it, Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth II wore matching jackets over collared shirts, with their short brown hair in identical curly bobs.

Supposedly, the Queen Mother dressed the sisters in matching outfits often to avoid sibling rivalry.

"You have to remember, there [were] four years between those two girls. If you told a 12-year-old that they had to dress like their 8-year-old sister, I think, there'd be a little bit of rebellion going on," royal author Bethan Holt told 9honey. "Elizabeth was very good and her and Margaret were always dressed in matching outfits."

Holt explained this was a way to show that their parents loved them equally. "I think that that really helped to show that, you know, in their parents' eyes, they were considered equals," she continued. "While Elizabeth had this, you know, incredibly important destiny ahead of her, she really needed to remember, as well, that her and her sister were sisters, they needed to be there for each other [and] dressing the same created this lovely sense of family."

She was "terribly loyal" to the Queen, despite some jealousy

Queen And Princess Margaret On Christmas Day In Sandringham

Tim Graham Photo Library The late Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret was close with her sister, even though they had some sibling rivalry. "She was terribly loyal to the Queen — and being five years younger, I think it would have been much more difficult if she had been just [a little] younger than the Queen," Anne Glenconner, Margaret's lady-in-waiting who wrote the memoir Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown, told PEOPLE. "There would have been more rivalry. She never said anything."

All siblings get jealous of each other every now and then, and that was true for Princess Margaret as well, who did not get the same education as her older sister.

"She always minded about not being educated as well as the Queen," Glenconner told PEOPLE. "The Queen had people from Eton and Cambridge, naturally. But Princess Margaret was never part of that."

Despite the differences, Margaret still had an excellent education. "[Margaret] had a governess and was taught to play the piano and speak French," Glenconner added. "She was very well read and would have really enjoyed being educated in a more stringent fashion."

Queen Elizabeth's education was Margaret's first clue that her sister was different.

"She said to me, 'That was the first time I sort of thought or realized that my sister was going to be Queen and I wouldn't really be part of what she was going to do,' " Glenconner said in a 2018 documentary called Margaret: The Rebel Princess. "It hit her quite hard that their lives were going to be completely different."

After the release of Prince Harry's memoir, Spare, Glennconner spoke again about the Countess of Snowdon and compared her to Harry.

"I knew Princess Margaret very, very well. And of course, she was a spare for quite a long time. But I mean, she was always completely loyal to the Queen," she told PEOPLE in an interview published Feb. 21, 2023.

She continued, "The only thing I ever heard her complain about was that she wish she'd been better educated," adding, "But otherwise, I mean, there was no whinging, no complaining."

She joined her sister for their first public speech and first official overseas visit

Princess Elizabeth makes her first broadcast, accompanied by her younger sister Princess Margaret Rose October 12, 1940 in London. Buckingham Palace announced that Princess Margaret died peacefully in her sleep at 1:30AM EST at the King Edward VII Hospital February 9, 2002 in London


Long before she became Queen, a 14-year-old Elizabeth made her first public speech on Oct. 13, 1940, with a 10-year-old Margaret by her side.

The sisters gave a radio address on BBC's Children's Hour, to boost morale. "Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers. My sister Margaret Rose and I feel so much for you as we know from experience what it means to be away from those we love most of all," said the then-Princess Elizabeth.

At the end, she brought Margaret on to say goodnight. "My sister is by my side and we are both going to say goodnight to you. Come on, Margaret," Elizabeth said.

Margaret said, "Goodnight, children."

"Goodnight, and good luck to you all," the future Queen added.

Margaret also went with her sister and their parents for the sisters' first official overseas visit in 1947. The then-Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret toured Southern Africa.

She acted in Christmas pantomimes with Queen Elizabeth during World War II

Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret (1930-2002), both in costume, pictured ahead of a royal pantomime production of 'Aladdin' at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, Great Britain, 15 December 1943

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Princess Margaret shared a love of the arts with Queen Elizabeth. When they were teenagers, a 14-year-old Princess Margaret played the Honourable Lucinda Fairfax and an 18-year-old future Queen Elizabeth played Lady Christina Sherwood in the Old Mother Red Riding Boots play. The 1944 performance was held at Windsor Castle for Armed Forces personnel and local children as a way to boost morale during World War II.

The sisters actually performed in a series of pantomimes (or slapstick-style shows, a British holiday tradition) from 1941 to 1944 to raise money for the Royal Household Wool Fund, which was used to make comforters for soldiers. This included Aladdin in 1943, in which then-Princess Elizabeth played the titular character and Princess Margaret played Princess Roxana. Six costumes from the Christmas plays were on display at Windsor Castle for the first time from November 2021 to January 2022.

Her love of the arts continued into adulthood, too. Princess Margaret was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music of London University and became the first president of the Royal Ballet (where the Queen was a patron) in 1957. Additionally, she was president of the Sadler's Wells Foundation, a leading dance organization that helped launch the Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Opera.

In 1984, the royal guest starred on BBC Radio 4's soap opera, The Archers, where she played herself at a fundraising fashion show. She recorded her lines in a makeshift recording studio in the library at Kensington Palace.

"Producer William Smethurst said the Princess quickly mastered the microphone techniques required for radio drama," revealed the BBC.

This was the first time a member of the royal family was part of a BBC drama.

She liked to start her day with cigarettes, alcohol and a long bath

Princess Margaret waves from her coach at Buckingham Palace here May 6th as she leaves on her honeymoon with Antony Armstrong-Jones.


When Margaret was 25, she would start her day with breakfast in bed and spend about two hours listening to the radio, reading newspapers and chain-smoking, according to an excerpt from Ma'am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown. After that, she would take an hour-long bath run for her by her lady's maid, then have her hair and makeup done at noon. A vodka pick-me-up usually followed.

Brown also wrote that Margaret loved drinking and smoking so much that she "tried to combine the smoking and drinking by gluing matchboxes onto tumblers, so she could strike matches while drinking," per Vogue.

She was able to give up both drinking and smoking, though. "When she had to give up smoking and drinking more or less at the same time, I admired her and asked her, 'Is it very hard?' She said, 'No, Anne, once I make up my mind to do something I do it,' " her lady-in-waiting Glenconner told PEOPLE. "She was practical like that."

She canceled her wedding to Captain Peter Townsend in 1955

Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930 - 2002) arrives in England after her tour of Canada, 12th August 1958

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As famously depicted in The Crown, Margaret had a relationship with Captain Peter Townsend, who was the equerry to King George VI. This likely started when she was a teenager, and he was married with two kids.

In Ma'am Darling, Brown shared that Margaret and Townsend may have already been seeing each other in October 1947, when she was 17 and he was 32. He accompanied Margaret to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where official papers documenting the visit revealed that Townsend had asked for adjoining rooms with Margaret during their stay at Hillsborough Castle. There is no proof that anything romantically happened between them, however.

Earlier the same year, Townsend accompanied the family to South Africa, where his official job was to look after Margaret. She reportedly said that this was the trip where she fell in love.

"We rode together every morning in that wonderful country, in marvelous weather," she said. "That's when I really fell in love with him."

Townsend divorced his wife in 1952, and rumors of his relationship with Princess Margaret began at the Queen's coronation in 1953. Margaret flicked a piece of fluff off Townsend's jacket in an intimate gesture that a reporter noticed.

In 1953, Townsend proposed to Princess Margaret, who said yes. However, under the 1772 Royal Marriages Act, the Queen would have to give her permission as well. She recommended Margaret wait until after she turned 25 and would no longer need the Queen's permission; however, Parliament denied Margaret's marriage request, eventually leading the Princess to choose royal duties over love.

"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," Margaret said in a statement on BBC Radio on Oct. 31, 1955. "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."

Townsend married Marie-Luce Jamagne in 1959 and Margaret married society photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in May 1960.

She wed Antony Armstong-Jones in 1960, although they divorced in 1978

Princess Margaret Announces Engagement. Windsor, Berkshire, England: Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones leave Windsor lodge to stroll the grounds following the announcement of their engagement here.


Margaret married Armstrong-Jones, who later was named the Earl of Snowdon by the Queen, in 1960. He was the first "commoner" to marry into the royal family in over 400 years.

The couple went on to have two kids together: David Armstrong-Jones in 1961 and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones in 1964. However, their marriage was riddled with infidelities on both sides.

In 1973, Princess Margaret had an affair with landscaper Roddy Llewellyn. The two were photographed on a beach together in Mustique in February 1976, when Margaret was still married to Armstrong-Jones. Less than a month later, the palace announced their separation, and their divorce was finalized two years later.

In the Elizabeth: Our Queen documentary, Glenconner revealed that she introduced Margaret to Roddy.

"It was difficult for the Queen and I felt rather guilty always having introduced Roddy to Princess Margaret," she said in the documentary. "But after Princess Margaret's funeral, the Queen, she said, 'I'd just like to say, Anne, it was rather difficult at moments, but I thank you so much introducing Princess Margaret to Roddy 'cause he made her really happy.' "

They were together for eight years. Helena Bonham Carter, who played Princess Margaret in season 3 of The Crown, met Llewellyn in real life, telling the Sunday Times about the couple: "He said they found each other just at the right time. They were both very lost, both felt somewhat outsiders, just not quite accepted by the family — or not quite good enough. Her confidence was really undermined by the breakdown of her marriage. He also gave her fun at a time when she hadn't been having much."

She was known for her sharp tongue and wild parties

Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) wearing a yellow evening dress, circa 1970

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Princess Margaret was married to Armstrong-Jones in the swinging '60s, where they were known for their fabulous parties at Kensington Palace, which included appearances from actor Peter Sellers and The Beatles.

"Stories about them were legion, with their star-studded parties at Kensington Palace," said royal biographer Christopher Warwick, who wrote Princess Margaret: A Life of Contrasts. "If you were invited by them, you were being invited to breathe in rarified air."