Infamous for forfeiting the royal rulebook, socializing with the world’s elite and being at the center of the public’s limelight, Princess Margaret Rose Windsor lived her days in a fiery spark and then faded away. Considered to be overshadowed by her sister, Queen Elizabeth II, the Princess though made her own mark as an unconventional royal and a fashion icon in her own right. Her eccentric, bold and freedom-loving personality gave rise to the question, what exactly is the role of a Princess?
Birth and Becoming a Princess
The Princess was born as Margaret Rose on the 21st of August 1930 in Glamis Castle, Scotland, her mother’s ancestral home, amidst a raging storm. Her mother, the Duchess of York, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon wanted to name her Ann Margaret, however, her father, Albert, the Duke of York preferred Margaret Rose. The documentation of her birth was delayed by a few days so that the number 13 would not be assigned to her in the parish metric book. In her childhood, the Princess was described to be mature and adept. Margaret was fourth in line to the throne after uncle, King Edward VII, her father, and her sister. However, that changed with the blink of an eye, when her uncle abdicated the throne in his love for an American socialite named Wallis Simpson, who was a two-time divorcee. This pushed Margaret up in the line of succession, with her father becoming King George VI of England. The family then moved into the lavish and regal Buckingham Palace, the seat of the monarchs.
Longing for Education and the Spotlight
After moving into the royal palace, the newly titled princesses spent a majority of their time with nurses, and their Scottish governess, Marion Crawford, fondly known as Crawfie. Several insights into the Princesses’ childhood came from their beloved governess, who wrote an unauthorized book on them, titled “The Little Princesses”. Their Governess wrote that the Princess was a notorious child. She would frequently execute practical jokes on unsuspecting palace staff without being told off for it. Margaret and her sister never went to school. They only had governesses and their education was supervised by their mother. In her later years, the Princess is quoted to have said that she regretted her lacking for formal education. The Princess was skilled at playing the piano and would also sing exquisitely. Her love for the spotlight was highlighted when her elder sister Elizabeth commented: “Oh, how much easier it is when Margaret is there – everyone laughs at what Margaret says.”
Princess Margaret was extremely close to her father, King George VI, who considered her as his joy and Elizabeth his pride. After his coronation, he feared that Margaret would be treated as a “spare”, hence, he would indulge in her whims and would often be criticized by the public for spoiling her. For example, one of the courtiers of the royal family claimed that Margaret was allowed to stay up for dinner before she was thirteen years of age. While her older sister was being groomed to become the future queen, Margaret was allowed all the freedoms in the world. King George was apparently so attached to both his daughters that he is said to have placed two rocking horses outside her office for them. The king’s overindulgence manifested as her arrogant and high-headed behavior in her teenage years. The Princess started smoking at the tender age of 15 and sustained this malpractice until her death.
Lilibet and Margot
The sisters were fondly called so, with Elizabeth being four years older than Margaret. They were said to be extremely close throughout their lives. Their Governess gave valuable anecdotes on their contrasting characters while they grew up. Elizabeth was said to be temperamental, but mature and well behaved, while Margaret was a stark contrast. Elizabeth showed restraint and adherence to tradition, while Margaret was known to break rules according to her fancy, and was hence deemed a troublemaker. After their father ascended the throne, young Elizabeth had to be groomed on politics, mannerisms and her future duties as a queen while Margaret was left behind. She supposedly said, “Now that Papa is King, I am nothing.” Though there was friendly competition amongst the two and occasional fights, their love always came through stronger.
Elizabeth was always encouraging of Margaret’s antics and ensured that she was never left behind. She preferred to have Margaret around her during parties and social gatherings. While the older one was more shy and reserved, she dotes on her notorious and outgoing younger sister. They would often perform mimicry together, Margaret being naturally gifted at it. Margaret accompanied her sister for honorary duties during the time of war in Britain. She would often find herself cropped in articles and would joke that she got censored. This never affected their relationship as their deep love and devotion to one another continued throughout their adulthood.