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Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret -

Princess Margaret was the younger daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and sister to The Queen. She was born on 21 August 1930.

During her rich and varied life, The Princess played an active role in the Royal Family's public work, supporting The Queen. Her particular interests were in the broad field of welfare work, and in the arts. She was patron or president of over 80 organisations, ranging from children's charities to ballet companies.

Princess Margaret was also a devoted mother. Two children from her marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones survive her: Lord Linley, born on 3 November 1961, and Lady Sarah Chatto, born on 1 May 1964.

Find out more about The Princess's life, patronages, honours and decorations in this section.

View video footage of Princess Margaret at an Olympic reception at Buckingham Palace in 1968:


The Princess was educated at home with her sister Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen). She learned to ride, enjoyed swimming and became a keen gardener. She had a strong interest in music from an early age, taking piano lessons by the age of four and later becoming an accomplished pianist.

In 1937 she joined the Brownies, and when she was old enough enlisted in the Girl Guides. She always maintained close links with Guiding, and, until her death, served as President and Chairman of the Council of the Girl Guides Association. In childhood during the Second World War she also became a Sea Ranger and, in 1949, was appointed their Commodore.

When she was five years old The Princess attended the Jubilee of her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary. Less than two years later came her second great State occasion, her parents' Coronation in Westminster Abbey. Princess Margaret began to carry out public engagements at a very young age; one early appointment was as Patron of the Scottish Children's League (she became its President in 1966). In 1947 she accompanied the King and Queen and Princess Elizabeth on their South African tour.

Marriage and family

In February 1960 The Queen announced her consent to the engagement of The Princess Margaret to Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones, and they were married in Westminster Abbey on 6 May. The honeymoon was spent in the West Indies. After marriage they made their home in an apartment in Kensington Palace. In October 1961 Mr Armstrong-Jones was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley.

They had two children. Their son, Lord Linley, was born on 3 November 1961 and christened David Albert Charles; their daughter, Lady Sarah Frances Elizabeth, was born on 1 May 1964. The marriage of The Princess to Lord Snowdon was dissolved in May 1978. 

Later years

In her later years The Princess Margaret suffered poor health, experiencing a mild stroke on 23 February 1998 whilst at her holiday home in Mustique. Twelve months later the Princess severely scalded her feet in a bathroom accident. This affected her mobility to the extent that the Princess later required support when walking and was sometimes restricted to a wheelchair. In 2000 and 2001 further strokes were diagnosed.

The Princess's poor health restricted the number of public engagements which Her Royal Highness was able to take on in her final years. The Princess nevertheless continued where possible to support the work of many of her organisations. Among her final official engagements were a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show on 21 May 2001 and the 80th birthday service for HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on 10 June 2001.

The Princess's last public appearance was at the 100th birthday celebrations of HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester in December 2001.

She died on 9 February 2002. Unusually for a member of the Royal Family, she was cremated, and her ashes were deposited in the King George VI Memorial Chapel in St George's Chapel, Windsor. 

Charities and patronages

Princess Margaret took a full share in the Royal Family's many public activities and showed particular interest in the broad field of welfare work. Many of the 80-plus organisations of which she was Patron or President are concerned with activities for young people, children's well-being and caring for sick people.

She was President of the National Society and of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Formerly Commandant-in-Chief of the Ambulance and Nursing Cadets of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, she later became Grand President of the St John Ambulance Brigade and Colonel-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps.

Princess Margaret made many official overseas visits, representing The Queen on numerous important occasions. She also opened British fairs and trade promotions, besides making other less formal visits. The Princess's first Commonwealth visit alone was to the Caribbean in 1955.

In the arts, two of Princess Margaret's great enthusiasms were music and ballet. In 1957, the same year that she was made an Honorary Doctor of Music of London University, she became the first President of the Royal Ballet, The Queen serving as Patron; she was also President of the Sadler's Wells Foundation.

Honours and appointments

Princess Margaret was Colonel-in-Chief of a number of military units, including the 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars and The Royal Highland Fusiliers, taking a personal interest in their history and activities and making a point of being posted with their latest news. She had special relationships with HMS Illustrious and HMS Norfolk. She was Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Coningsby. Apart from British regiments, Princess Margaret was also Colonel-in-Chief of foreign units including the Highland Fusiliers of Canada and The Bermuda Regiment. A full list follows:

Royal Navy and Royal Marines
Special Relationships
HMS Illustrious
HMS Norfolk

Army (and Commonwealth Armies)
15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars
The Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment)
Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
The Highland Fusiliers of Canada
The Princess Louise Fusiliers (of Canada)
The Royal Newfoundland Regiment
The Bermuda Regiment

Deputy Colonel-in-Chief
The Royal Anglian Regiment

Royal Air Force 
Honorary Air Commodore
Royal Air Force Coningsby

Princess Margaret was Honorary Fellow of several learned societies, received Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Cambridge and Keele, and was a Master of the Bench of Lincoln's Inn.

In December 1957 she was made an Honorary Doctor of Music of London University (the degree being conferred on her by her mother who was then Chancellor of the University). She was especially interested in the ballet and was Patron of the Sadler's Wells Foundation. When, in 1957, the two companies and the school received their charter as the Royal Ballet, she became the first President (The Queen being Patron).

Princess Margaret was awarded the Royal Victorian Chain by The Queen in 1990 and was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 1953. She was Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and held foreign orders and decorations from The Netherlands, Zanzibar, Belgium, Uganda and Japan. A full list follows:

British decorations
Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (1953)
Royal Victorian Chain (1990)
Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (1956)

Foreign orders and decorations
Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion, 1948
Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar, First Class, 1956
Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Belgium, 1960
Order of the Crown, Lion and Spear of Toro Kingdom (Uganda), 1965
Order of the Precious Crown, First Class (Japan), 1971