Princess Margaret Had 3 Lovers. Here's What We Know About Them

If you think that royal romances are all fairytales that follow the Disney script, think again. Though we have modern royal love stories that certainly look as though they've come straight out of a beloved animated movie, other relationships within the royal family have been mired by scandal, affairs, and all-out emotional warfare. 

Of course, King Charles' marriage to the late Princess Diana is a perfect example of this. Dubbed the "War of the Waleses," the two parties were at each other's throats in the headlines before their divorce was finalized, ending years of torment and a marriage plagued with infidelity. Two of Charles' siblings — Princess Anne and Prince Andrew — also got divorced right around the same time, causing what we can only imagine to be the worst headache for their mother, Queen Elizabeth. But their path to end their marriages was arguably paved by Princess Margaret, the queen's younger sister, whose own romantic life was far from picture-perfect.

Margaret was famously engaged to Group Captain Peter Townsend early on in her romantic life, causing quite a lot of concern within the royal family and beyond. The relationship ended and was followed by her marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones which ended in divorce after a long-lasting affair between Margaret and a younger man. All in all, the late princess had three distinct relationships throughout her life, and yet none ended in the fairytale romance that the royal family is seemingly known for. 

Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend had hurdles in the way of their romance

Any fan of Season 1 of "The Crown" will tell you that Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend were meant to be. As noted by the BBC, the two met when Margaret was just a teenager, and Townsend was her father's equerry — basically, a senior personal assistant — and therefore spent quite a lot of time with the royals. Margaret and Townsend quickly fell in love, but there was a catch — he was married with two children, and the Church of England, the royals, and Britain at-large looked down on divorce. Still, Townsend divorced his wife in 1952 and proposed to Margaret shortly after. She, of course, said "yes" but a number of hurdles stood in the way of the couple's happiness.

First on the list of difficulties was the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which prohibited a member of the royal family from marrying someone who had gone through a divorce. The marriage would've required Queen Elizabeth's permission, and as she was disinclined to give it, she told Margaret to wait two years until she was 25 and petition Parliament for permission. In the midst of all this, Townsend was sent to Belgium for work, forcing the couple apart. By the time she did turn 25, Margaret was faced with yet another slew of difficult considerations.

Princess Margaret eventually ended her engagement to Peter Townsend due to this reason

Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend were at an impasse — Queen Elizabeth would not give her consent to allow them to marry, and instead, Margaret had to go to Parliament for permission (via iNews). There, of course, she was met with yet another catch. She could marry Townsend if she wanted, but it would require her to not only give up all her royal privileges, place in the line of succession, and her future children's positions, but she would be required to leave Great Britain for five years. It was a tall order, and after consideration, Margaret announced to the Commonwealth that she had called off her engagement.

On October 31, 1955, Margaret released an official statement detailing her decision and plans for the future. "I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend," she began (via iNews). "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. 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." Though she made the announcement, iNews suggested it was Townsend who ultimately pulled the veil over their relationship.

Peter Townsend reflected on his relationship with Princess Margaret in his 1978 memoir

The details of Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend's relationship existed in whispers and accounts from friends for many years, but in 1978, he released his autobiography and detailed some of the intimate moments in his relationship with the princess. Of the first time they admitted their feelings for one another, Townsend wrote: "It was then that we made the mutual discovery of how much we meant to one another. She listened, without uttering a word, as I told her, very quietly, of my feelings. Then she simply said: 'That is exactly how I feel, too'" (via Today).

Still, other moments detailed in the book weren't as touching as the moment the couple realized their love for each other. As aforementioned, some reports suggested that it was Townsend who ended his engagement to Margaret, not the other way around as her official statement indicated in 1955. The king's former equerry addressed the dissolving of their relationship in his book, noting that he couldn't let Margaret sacrifice her entire life for him.

"She could have married me only if she had been prepared to give up everything — her position, her prestige, her privy purse," Townsend admitted (via People). "I simply hadn't the weight, I knew it, to counterbalance all she would have lost."

Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend briefly crossed paths before his death

To say that Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend went through hell and back is a bit of an understatement. From political motivations to physical separation to the consistent disapproval of Queen Elizabeth, these two could not catch a break. After their engagement ended, Townsend moved to Belgium and later France, remarrying and settling into life outside of the royal gaze. Still, he and Margaret kept in touch, writing letters to one another occasionally.

Then, in 1992, the exes unexpectedly crossed paths at a function. As noted by The New York Times, it was just by chance that they were both in attendance. The following year, they met up once more at a luncheon held at Kensington Palace. According to a guest who witnessed the pair interact, Margaret and Townsend "chatted like the old friends they were."

Two years later in 1995, Townsend passed away at the age of 80. The New York Times noted that he had been sick for quite a while, and the princess was saddened by the news of his passing. Oddly enough, the queen sent his widow a note upon his death offering her condolences. Townsend's death, in a way, marked that period of Margaret's life coming to a close, tragically, as she and Townsend were never able to revel in their love for one another.

Princess Margaret met Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1958 and started a secret affair

Three years after her engagement to Peter Townsend came to an end, Princess Margaret was said to have felt the pressure to marry. Still, her prior relationship was such a controversial talking point within Great Britain, so it's no wonder that she engaged her next suitor under the cloak of privacy. As noted by People, Margaret first crossed paths with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in the late 1950s at a dinner party. The man who caught her attention was incredibly outside the royal mold — a commoner, an artist, a man who had completely struck out on his own. The two started their dalliance in secret, announcing their surprise engagement in February 1960. To say that everyone was surprised is definitely an understatement.

Still, the two got married shortly thereafter and became central figures in London's high society. Speaking to People, biographer Christoper Warwick said of the couple: "During the 60s, before their marriage started going wrong, they were royalty's golden couple. Stories about them were legion, with their star-studded parties at Kensington Palace. If you were being invited by them you were being invited to breathe in rarified air." Of course, things between them did inevitably turn sour, and they were arguably set up for failure given Armstrong-Jones' affairs, departure from the royal norm, and his attitude toward the royal family.

Antony Armstrong-Jones was not a fan of marrying into the royal family

Though he and Princess Margaret shared love for one another, Antony Armstrong-Jones wasn't exactly what you would call a typical royal spouse. As noted by People, he had reservations about marrying into the firm. To make matters worse, in the time leading up to his meeting with the royal family at Balmoral, he was having an affair with Camilla Fry — his best friend's wife. Things didn't stop there when it came to Armstrong-Jones and the ways in which his love life unfolded. There were quite a lot of rumors circling him and his sexuality as he and Margaret became a public couple, and he even addressed whispers of him being bisexual, saying: "I didn't fall in love with boys, but a few men have been in love with me" (via People).

Just the way in which Margaret and Armstrong-Jones met went quite against the royal way of doing things. Instead of meeting through shared social circles or through high-society events, the duo crossed paths initially when Margaret became something of a muse to Armstrong-Jones' photography. As Vanessa Kirby — who played Margaret in Seasons 1 and 2 of "The Crown" — told People, Armstrong-Jones was the exact opposite of royal protocol, far from "all the formality and stuffiness of her family."

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones existed at the center of London's high society

Though he had his reservations about royal life, Antony Armstrong-Jones married into the royal family on May 6, 1960, and became Lord Snowdon upon his marriage. The couple were royal rockstars in every right. Less pomp and tradition than Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the two partied with musicians, reveled in London's art scene, and existed at the center of all things opulent — and their daily routines reflected such a way of life. 

For Princess Margaret specifically, she had a morning routine that will knock the socks right off of you. As noted by Vogue, she would wake up at 9 a.m. and spend two hours catching up on the news — leaving her newspapers littered around the room — and smoking cigarettes while doing so. By 12:30 p.m., her vodka was served, and she'd go about the day ready to indulge in a night of frivolousness.

When it did come time for a dinner party, she and Armstrong-Jones had a rather coy way of keeping each other entertained if they deemed their guests boring. Dubbed "The Bread Game," the two would listen in on conversations and whenever someone would utter something they deemed silly or cliché, they would tear a piece of bread off their roll and place it in front of them (via Vogue). Whoever had more bread by the end of the evening would claim victory.

The princess had a surprising reaction to her divorce

Though their marriage seemed to exist in an opulent circle of joy and festivity, Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones' relationship started going downhill fairly quickly. As noted by History, Armstrong-Jones regularly had affairs throughout his relationship with Margaret, and the princess was said to be incredibly lonely despite being married. 

To make matters worse, the London photographer was said to have had a long-lasting affair with Lady Jacqueline Rufus-Isaacs starting in 1969 – as the daughter of the Marquess of Reading, high-society circles were starting to cross in an incredibly uncomfortable way. One of Margaret's ladies-in-waiting attested that: "Life at Kensington Palace had degenerated into 'open warfare,'" and the couple were at each other's throats in more ways than one (via the Evening Standard).

By the time rumors of Margaret's own infidelity caught up with the couple, they were at a breaking point. As noted by Vogue, it was Armstrong-Jones who ultimately pulled the plug on their marriage, and delivered the news to Margaret via her private secretary, Lord Nigel Napier. When he told the princess that her husband wanted a divorce, Margaret said: "Thank you, Nigel. I think that's the best news you've ever given me." Margaret and Armstrong-Jones were officially divorced in July 1978 (via People), 18 years after they tied the knot.

Princess Margaret met Roddy Llewellyn in 1973 while she was still married

Remember those rumors of infidelity on Princess Margaret's part? Well, they started around 1973 when she met one Roddy Llewellyn, a strapping young man who caught her attention while she vacationed in Scotland. As noted by the BBC, whispers about Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones' marriage were rampant — their fights were the worst-kept secret in Britain — and it was at a low point in their marriage that Margaret and Llewellyn crossed paths. 

While in Edinburgh, Margaret was on her way to a house party hosted by a good friend, Colin Tennant, when she stopped by the Café Royal. Here she met Llewellyn, who was considerably younger than her and particularly easy on the eyes. His life couldn't have been more different from her own at that exact moment, and perhaps that was what drew her to him in the first place.

The BBC detailed that while in Edinburgh, Llewellyn joined a Wiltshire commune. Trained in gardening, Llewellyn had plans to pursue a career in farming so he and his fellow commune members could start their own restaurant in the city of Bath. Llewellyn ultimately followed the path of landscaping — partly as his relationship with Margaret unfolded — but when he met the princess, he was a ruddy kid who surely had no idea what his life would look like when a royal crossed his path. And, of course, Margaret was still married at the time.

The princess' affair hit the headlines in 1976

About three years after they initially met, the relationship shared by Princess Margaret and Roddy Llewellyn hit the headlines. Tabloid culture was just starting to pick up steam, and when photos of the pair were taken while enjoying a vacation in Mustique, things went from bad to worse. As noted by History, the pictures in question weren't particularly raunchy — the duo were in the ocean, in swimsuits naturally — but the tabloids labeled Margaret as a cougar-type predator who had sunk her teeth into a much younger boy toy. Telling Anne Tennant — the wife of Colin Tennant, who first introduced the princess to Llewellyn — Margaret said of the photos and her affair: "Heavens, what have I done?" But arguably, it was too late — the damage had already been done.

Though Margaret and Llewellyn were said to be attached at the hip, the princess' marriage and the press attention started to rip her apart. As detailed by the BBC, the photos published on the front pages were the last straw for Antony Armstrong-Jones, and as for Llewellyn, his property became ground zero for paparazzi. With time, Margaret and Armstrong-Jones got divorced and her relationship with Llewellyn continued for almost eight years, but they eventually called it quits. This would be Margaret's final relationship before illness and rumored addiction forced her into a reclusive lifestyle until her death in 2002.

Roddy Llewellyn reflected on the relationship after he and Margaret went their separate ways

Years after their relationship came to an end, Roddy Llewellyn opened up about his time with Princess Margaret, their 17-year age gap, and the pressures they felt while navigating such a high-profile romance. As noted by The Telegraph, Llewellyn was just 26 years old when his affair with then 43-year-old Margaret started, and the trials they endured from the very beginning were astounding.

"I didn't think about the consequences of such a high-profile affair. If we all had crystal balls, we'd all know which horse to back, wouldn't we? I was just following my heart," Llewellyn said, before reflecting on Margaret as a person, not a princess (via The Telegraph). "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. "We found we were all fond of charades and sing-songs. I have even sung to her accompaniment on the piano. To raise a laugh, HRH has donned a wig to sing a Sophie Tucker red hot momma number." Silly interactions and jokes aside, Llewellyn maintained that the princess was one of his closest confidants throughout their relationship, concluding: "In Princess Margaret I found a fine friend who could steady my restless nature and offer wise counsel."

Queen Elizabeth was reportedly happy that Princess Margaret and Roddy Llewellyn were together

A running theme in Princess Margaret's love life was the lack of approval she received from Queen Elizabeth. It was the queen's permission she needed way back when to marry Peter Townsend, Antony Armstrong-Jones certainly wasn't the poster man for royal romances, and Margaret had an affair with a much younger man. Funnily enough, the queen was said to have approved of Roddy Llewellyn and even admitted to her sister's jovial changes when their relationship began. As noted by Vanity Fair, Lady Anne Glenconner — who introduced Margaret and Llewellyn — revealed that at Margaret's funeral in 2002, the queen came up to her and expressed her gratitude for introducing the princess and the landscaper in the first place.

"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 revealed, a surprise to us all given that royal affairs — which have now led to quite a few divorces within the family — are so frowned upon.

Still, as noted by the BBC, it was the couple's age difference that finally severed their relationship. Llewellyn went on to marry a woman who was much closer to him in age, and as aforementioned, Margaret remained single for the rest of her life.