Helena Bonham Carter Met With Princess Margaret's Boyfriend Roddy Llewellyn to Prepare for 'The Crown'

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Catching up on previous seasons of The Crown before diving into season five? If you're curious about the real-life relationship between Princess Margaret and Roddy Llewellyn, read on for our story from 2019:

Helena Bonham Carter was quite thorough in her preparations to play Princess Margaret in seasons three and four of the Netflix series The Crown. She consulted everyone from psychics to the late royal's close friends, including her ladies-in-waiting, and a hairdresser. And she also spoke with Roddy Llewellyn, Margaret's one-time boyfriend, who comes into the picture just as her marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones is crumbling.

“He came to tea with me and Harry [Treadaway], who plays Roddy. He was so fun and warm — that’s what she needed. He’s very musical. He started singing a song in my kitchen," Bonham Carter told the Sunday Times.

"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.”

Here, a brief timeline of the couple's complicated love affair.

Margaret and Roddy first met in Scotland in 1973.

Per the BBC, they were introduced at the Café Royal in Edinburgh on their way to Margaret's friend Colin Tennant's house. At the time, Roddy was a gardener, and just 25 years old, 17 years younger than Margaret.

Their relationship was perfect tabloid fodder.

Photos of Margaret and Roddy on a romantic holiday on the island of Mustique are what prompted a flood of coverage. And as news of the Snowdons' separation became public, the press descended on Roddy until he issued a statement.

"I much regret any embarrassment caused to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family, for whom I wish to express the greatest respect, admiration and loyalty," it read.

"Could we please be permitted by the media, who have besieged us, to carry on with our work and private lives without further interference."

Anwar Hussein Collection
Roddy Llewellyn swims with Princess Margaret on holiday in Mustique in February 1976.Anwar Hussein - Getty Images

But it was hardly enough to quiet the media's appetite.

"When it emerged that Margaret was having the relationship with Roddy Llewellyn, we were absolutely in the age of tabloid gossip and celebrity news and this was the perfect story was to feed that machine," Chris Granlund, executive producer of the documentary Margaret: A Rebel Princess, which aired earlier this year on PBS, said.

Granlund says that one of the goals of telling Margaret's story was putting it within a historical context to show how the world was changing as well.

"Feminism was growing but still there was a double standard that for an older woman being with a younger man at that time was a huge thing, and much more than it would be today. And so that was a part of it, so he was constantly referred to as her “Toy Boy.” Politicians called him that when they were attacking the royal family in parliament. So [their relationship] was used as a weapon against the royal family."

While they were dating, Roddy launched a music career.

He released one album, "Roddy," in 1978, though publicity became difficult to manage when the press only wanted to discuss his personal life.

Roddy Llewellyn
Roddy in the recording studio in 1978.PA Images - Getty Images

In the end, Roddy and Margaret dated for approximately 8 years.

Eventually, they broke up, and in July of 1981, he married Tatiana Soskin. They have three daughters together, Alexandra, Natasha, and Rosie.

Roddy Llewellyn and Wife Tanya
Roddy with his wife Tatiana (left).Tim Graham - Getty Images

Roddy now lives a quiet life, relatively out of the spotlight, but in 2002, he reflected on his relationship with Margaret.

"I didn't think about the consequences of such a high-profile affair," he said. "If we all had crystal balls, we'd all know which horse to back, wouldn't we? I was just following my heart."

He continued, recalling the first time they met.

"I discovered a warm and witty woman, possessing a strong sense of duty and dedication to her country's interests, who has honoured me with her friendship since that first house party that was so filled with fun and laughter," he said.

"In Princess Margaret I found a fine friend who could steady my restless nature and offer wise counsel."

The Queen eventually approved of their relationship because it made Margaret happy, but she didn't at first.

Princess Margaret's authorized biographer, Christopher Warwick, has said that "the Queen didn't approve of Roddy or of the relationship, and she thought that in all of this Roddy business, her sister was behaving badly."

But eventually, the British monarch changed her mind. In the documentary Elizabeth: Our Queen, Lady Anne Glenconner recounts a conversation she had with the British monarch at Princess Margaret's funeral. Glenconner says the Queen was glad Margaret had been introduced to Roddy.

“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 [for] introducing Princess Margaret to Roddy ’cause he made her really happy,’” Glenconner said.

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