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  #41  
Old 06-18-2008, 03:42 PM
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That's what I was getting, reading between the lines. It must have been very difficult for her to cease being the heroine of the British/royal family, especially when she was only 51-years-old. As we know, this particular widow had a lot of life left to her.
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  #42  
Old 06-18-2008, 03:51 PM
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Yes, strep throat, term paper and exams are wonderful things My mother always knew when I was sick - I couldn't open a book... which is telling in this case.

But I'm reading now.

2. Would she have had more scope to fulfill her potential if she hadn't been such a senior royal? If so, would she have had the inner resources to do so?
It's an interesting question - because as I see it, part of the problem is that she was raised as a senior royal (and also quite spoilt, which is repeated ad nauseam.) but by various happenings (the new ruling on the titles of the royal family, p. 86, Prince Charles' birth, etc) she was also pushed further and further down - and the author seems to indicate that this was working against her personality, who needed attention.

4. Was her marriage to Tony Armstrong-Jones doomed from the start, as some people said, or were they just placed under intolerable pressure by the snobs in the Household?

It will be interesting to read the Armstrong-Jones biography, to see how he depicts it.

The household definitely seems to play a big part - perhaps too big a part. Also the story of how Margaret's household didn't want to adapt to having a man there - just breakfast for one, etc. is telling.
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  #43  
Old 06-18-2008, 04:49 PM
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The Princess and the photographer, nowadays people wouldnīt be as doubtful about the success of the marriage as they were back then. The engagement was announced to general open mouthed shock as far as I can remember.
A little bit like the Jackie Kennedy - Onassis marriage when it was announced, general disbelief.
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  #44  
Old 06-18-2008, 04:57 PM
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If I remember right from reports at the time, as well as what people have said since, many foreign royals boycotted the wedding because they believed that Margaret had married so far beneath herself. It's sort of interesting, in that many of the younger generation of those same families have married people from lower social strata than Tony Armstrong-Jones. How times change.
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  #45  
Old 06-18-2008, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
If I remember right from reports at the time, as well as what people have said since, many foreign royals boycotted the wedding because they believed that Margaret had married so far beneath herself. It's sort of interesting, in that many of the younger generation of those same families have married people from lower social strata than Tony Armstrong-Jones. How times change.
Her "uncle" Charles (Haakon VII of Norway) was, according to reports from Princess Astrid, fairly concerned that his granddaughters would emulate Margaret in terms of going out about town, and getting press for it.

Of course, later Astrid would marry a divorced man, where Margaret didn't… so it's a bit tied as for the press.
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  #46  
Old 06-22-2008, 04:00 PM
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This week's discussion covers the last part of the book, Chapters 7 and 8 and the Epilogue, which deal with the 1990s and the 21st century.

Chapter 7: The Nineties
  • The author talks about his own meeting with the Princess and his impressions of her
  • Worsening health problems, leading to her cutting down on activities; concentration on things of genuine interest such as the ballet
  • Discussion of friends and acquaintances, as well as claims from people claiming to be her illegitimate child
  • Her strokes and the accident where she scalded her feet; rehabilitation and partial recovery
Chapter 8: The End
  • Short chapter because she died in 2002
  • Mostly focussed on her declining health and the support of her friends
  • Death, funeral, memorials; reaction in the press at the time and more recently
  • Sale of her belongings at Christie's
Epilogue
  • Summing up of the main point of her life
  • Short discussion about people's perception of her
Some questions to consider

1. The author quoted a friend of the Princess's who said that hers was a life unfulfilled. Do you agree with that perception?
2. Do you think the negative press after her death was a fair assessment of her life and worth?
3. What do you think was the reason for the multiple claims by people that they were her illegitimate children?
4. Her children seem to have more stable married lives than the Queen's children. Does this reflect on the two royal sisters at all?
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  #47  
Old 06-22-2008, 04:31 PM
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I believe that most of Princess Margaretīs health problems were caused by her chain smoking. Even after a lung operation she continued smoking.
Then there were her constant migraine headaches. I know exactly how she felt as I suffered terribly from migraine. It can be incapacitating, for me it was about 5 hours of agony but I know that some people have days of it.
When I first went to a neurologist about it he told me there was nothing to be done....so I can imagine at that time she had the same answer. I am talking about some years ago....then of course that terrible accident when she scalded her feet which has never really been explained. After that her health seemed to deteriorate very quickly.
About all the claims about being her illegitimate child, I believe that many people were fascinated about her life and saw her a a romantic figure, the woman who gave up her one true love, especially adopted children or orphans who you canīt blame for having a fantasy "parent" and sometimes they let their imagination run away with them. Recently there has been a case of a man who wants to force the royal family to disclose to him Princess Margaretīs will because he believes she will have owned him as her son in it and probably left him a legacy.
I find this very sad.
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  #48  
Old 06-22-2008, 04:43 PM
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I wondered whether this rash of self-proclaimed illegitimate children had to do with Princess Margaret's reputation for having affairs once her marriage had hit the rocks; this seemed to make her fair game in a way that other royals weren't. But I think your explanation about the romantic aspect of her life, as well as the way she gave up Peter Townsend after all those years with apparently nothing to show for it, is a really good explanation.

Considering what a turbulent home life she had with Tony, and their affairs after their split, it seems that they've managed to raise two well-adjusted children who have managed to create happy homes for their own children. According to one (rather bitchy) newspaper article I read a while back, Princess Margaret wasn't slow to point out how much better her children had turned out than her sister's children!

I hope the grandchildren who arrived in the late 1990s helped make her last few years happier. One symptom of strokes is that they can cause depression, and with her independent spirit she must have hated being so physically impaired. The photo in the book, showing her in her wheelchair on her mother's 101st birthday, is just tragic. But the photo on the last page taken by Prue Penn really is stunning.
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  #49  
Old 06-22-2008, 04:50 PM
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Not long before Princess Margaret died she gave her beloved home on the island of Moustique to her son and he sold it. At the time it was said that that could be a reason for her depression. It seems the Linleys preferred a home in France. At the time there was a lot of criticism and it seemed a very unfeeling move to make. Perhaps at this time Princess Margaret was, let us say "confused", and that he didnīt think that the selling of the property would or could affect her. At the time I thought it was a terrible thing to do.
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  #50  
Old 06-22-2008, 05:36 PM
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I'm sure it didn't help matters. It really does sound like an unfeeling thing to do, and I hope it was actually less unfeeling than it appears to outsiders. The Warwick biography said that Linley used to rent it out for a while before deciding to sell, and that the second time she had a stroke while she was there, she had to move to someone else's house while she was still not well because the tenants were about to arrive. That must have been hard for her.

It was bad enough that her things were sold at Christies in that very public and controversial auction, but at least that happened after her death. Selling her Mustique home during her lifetime does seem to have been very insensitive.
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  #51  
Old 06-22-2008, 05:41 PM
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There was a quote from Margaret Rhodes in one of these chapters about how fortunate it was that Margaret wasn't the elder child: "The Almighty gets the right people to be born first. Thank heaven she wasn't the eldest. It would have been disastrous the other way round."

Given how the Almighty arranged for Eddy the Duke of Clarence and David the Duke of Windsor to be born first, I'm a bit dubious about this. But I do wonder how disastrous it would have been. It sounds as though the Queen would have really liked to just be a lady living in the country with lots of horses and dogs, as she said herself at one point; Margaret, with her more outgoing personality and quicker intelligence, might have done quite well as Queen if she'd had the extra education that Elizabeth had had. It's one of those "we'll never know" things, but I got the impression from various quotes that Margaret Rhodes didn't think all that much of Princess Margaret. I suppose the people who knew her as a spoiled and willful child always remembered that part of her even when she was grown up.
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  #52  
Old 06-22-2008, 09:55 PM
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I agree that Princess Margaret's pact not to marry was probably done in the heat of the moment. It does show a side that is self-destructive, I suppose, but I can imagine doing that myself! (It probably says the same thing about me.)

It's hard to know if she would have been happier if she'd married Townsend. He had a happy second marriage, I think, so I'm not sure that he was 'not a viable life partner'?

As the youngest child who came after two extremely clever boys I can certainly understand that living in her sister's shadow must have been very difficult for the Princess. It would be pretty rotten to be deliberately deprived of certain classes that Princess Elizabeth attended.

I didn't care for the last part of the book much. I didn't feel that Heald really went into the reasons for the Princess's divorce or her relationship with her children, or even her many illnesses. What do the rest of you think?

I like the Brandreth book too, Elspeth, but I haven't finished it yet. However, I did get a bit angry with certain things that Brandreth said. I don't know if Marie Bonaparte could be called a 'nymphomaniac', for example. However, that's very OT.

I've written this post rather quickly, so it's a bit scattered.

Regards,
Lisa
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  #53  
Old 06-23-2008, 02:33 AM
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I think that saying Iīll never marry again is just one of those things that a young woman would say in the throes of being thwarted and not getting what she wanted.
For some reason many people didnīt seem to like Princess Margaret, or at least we can read between the lines that they didnīt. I believe that she was very aware of her royal status and any crossing of the line was haughtily repressed and the perpetrator put right in the place that PM thought they belonged. She had given up Peter Townsend to keep her royal status and so she wasnīt going to let anyone forget it.
I disliked the last part of the Heald book intensely. In fact that is one of the reasons I havenīt got it with me. I just left it at our country house as I thought I wouldnīt want to read it that soon. I am a person who loves my books and when I enjoy one it is read over and over again. This one I kept for reference only and of course, now that we are discussing it, I am sorry.
Perhaps there was a good reason to sell the Mustique house, but Lord Linley was accused of being insensitive and he must have known that his mother didnīt have that long to live and he could have waited. I was very sorry to hear that his motherīs jewellery was sold as well but perhaps it was because of death duties. I didnīt get a very good impression of him from that and later problems he has had havenīt changed my mind. His sister seems to me a very different person. I noticed over the years that she was very often with her aunt, the Queen who seemed to be very fond of her.
I think that Princess Margaret would have made a very good Queen I think she would have revelled in it and done a very good job, in fact I think she was very like her mother. The Queen does a wonderful job but I could never say she revels in it.
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  #54  
Old 06-23-2008, 03:22 AM
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I was surprised by the "never marry again" pact and how long she seemed to stick with it. She was around 30 when she married, which was several years after she'd been made aware that marrying Townsend wasn't going to happen. Tim Heald suggested that she pretty much married Tony as a reaction to Townsend's marriage, but Christopher Warwick makes her relationship with Tony seem a bit more normal.

The Heald book, more than the others I've read (although the Warwick book is the only one I've read recently), dwells on the less glamorous and more sleazy aspects of her life, which might be why the later part of it is so unsatisfying. I don't think there was nearly enough about her relationship with her children, since that did seem to be a large part of her life; instead, there seem to be a succession of anecdotes about the Princess and some of her activities and people's impression of her.

I think that in some ways the author's access to her papers hasn't always helped the book. It's interesting to read snippets about what goes into preparing for a royal visit somewhere in England, but they do keep recurring and we aren't learning anything new from them. On one hand, I think it makes the chapters repetitive and tedious, but on the other hand, I think that might be part of the point - to show that a lot of the Princess's life really was repetitive and tedious, and that 50 years after starting her royal duties with all this nit-picking preparation for each outing, it was still going on basically unchanged. Initially it was an interesting look behind the scenes of a royal visit, but as the book went on I was beginning to feel as though I was trapped in a nightmare after so many of these episodes. This book also gave some details about the Princess's senior staff which I hadn't read anywhere else and which I found quite interesting.
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  #55  
Old 06-25-2008, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Menarue View Post
For some reason many people didnīt seem to like Princess Margaret, or at least we can read between the lines that they didnīt. I believe that she was very aware of her royal status and any crossing of the line was haughtily repressed and the perpetrator put right in the place that PM thought they belonged. She had given up Peter Townsend to keep her royal status and so she wasnīt going to let anyone forget it.
I don't know whether I agree entirely with that, Menarue. I got the impression that Townsend was the one who really didn't want to get married when he knew that the Princess would have to give up her royal status and money from the Civil List.

She was inconsistent about demanding to be treated like royalty, according to the book. Sometimes she even acted like 'one of the girls' apparently, and she hated the couple who kept curtsying and bowing to her in Australia.

Best,
Lisa
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  #56  
Old 06-25-2008, 02:09 AM
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You are probably right Att.Grace, just the thought of taking on a spoilt royal princess and trying to keep her in the way she was accustomed without the royal money behind her must have scared the wits out of him.
I am not surprised that sometimes Princess Margaret dropped her royal haughtiness and wanted to be treated as one of the girls. When I was young I had a royal princess friend, we had a group of friends and there was nothing she liked more than to help in the kitchen, and if someone became too formal she would complain ----- then very soon after, it could have been even the day after, she would make it plain who was royal and put us in our little commoner places with what we called the Queen Victoria look, like all of us, royals too can have mood swings.
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  #57  
Old 06-27-2008, 07:33 AM
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How wonderful! It would be so interesting to have a royal princess friend.

It must be very difficult to be royal. Princess Mary seems to be coping with it amazingly well, so far. As an Australian, I can imagine to some extent just how much her life has changed.

Best,
Lisa
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  #58  
Old 06-27-2008, 11:44 AM
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It was probably particularly difficult for Princess Margaret, because unlike the rest of her immediate family, she seemed to want to move with the times, and the times were becoming distinctly more informal and less deferential. Not that that excuses inconsistent behaviour, but it can't have been an easy balance to strike.

It seems to me that for Princess Margaret, the whole "heir and spare" thing had more contrast than for either Prince Andrew or Prince Harry - she was the "spare," and once Princess Elizabeth had produced her own heir and spare, she pretty much became the "spare part"; not much thought was given to her future other than to assume she'd get married to some Duke or other. And when you think about her interests and her rejection of the dogs-and-horses country-life lifestyle, it's hard to see her settling down with any of these owners of vast country estates whose main interest in life was hunting and fishing and who seemed to loathe London and the 20th century.
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Old 06-27-2008, 12:22 PM
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Princess Margaret was definitely a town person, I canīt imagine her on a huge estate with hundreds of dogs running round her. She loved the city life but she also loved the Caribbean and the more relaxed atmosphere there. There is one photo of her in front of her beach house surrounded by her friends, mainly young men, looking very glamorous and seemingly holding court. It was much more relaxed there but I think that there was no doubt at any time that she was a royal princess and everyone had to remember it.
She was also interested in the arts. I really canīt remember ever hearing of her doing much horse-riding as an adult. In fact she was very different from her sister, I think she was very like her mother. Her mother was supposed to smoke, drink, never did any exercise or dieted - but she was obviously of more robust health than Princess Margaret considering her longevity. Something I canīt understand is how PM after her lung operation went back to smoking.
I suppose you canīt say she had a sad life, she did what she wanted most of the time, she was beautiful and talented, it is sad that she never reached her full potential. I would have like to see her presiding over a court in a European country but at that time I donīt think there were any heirs to thrones near to her age. Perhaps there were but I canīt think of any.
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:41 AM
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Back then they were all taught that way.
Remember these were minor royals and girls too.
They just did it that way,
It only changed with the queens children,
On the insistance of the Prince phillip.
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