I sat with Princess Margaret, my oldest loved one, a pair of days earlier than she died. It feels like the day prior to this, but it is now twenty years ago.
Her eyesight used to be unhealthy in opposition to the tip, so I have been going into Kensington Palace to learn to her in her bed room. It was once very sad that day. i may see that she was fading. I just learn, as I all the time did, and talked to her as we had for SIXTY FIVE years.
Others will take into account that her as any person who was once at all times pictured within the newspapers at events, smoking or with a drink in her hand. That was once her reputation, as a celebration-goer, cemented now by Netflix’s The Crown.
I simplest watched one episode to look how they portrayed me, however I hated it for her. All the ones ridiculous scenes the place Princess Margaret (performed through Helena Bonham Carter) stayed on the White House in 1965 and had a grimy limerick contest with president Lyndon B Johnson. She might never have done that. It used to be totally out of persona.
Yes, she preferred to have fun. We met as kids and have become friends because we each appreciated having amusing and being a little bit bit naughty. it’s what drew us to every different. i used to be 3. She was years older.
My father was once an equerry to her father, then the Duke of York (later King George VI). Whilst the circle of relatives was in Norfolk at Sandringham, they had been with regards to us at Holkham Corridor. The 2 of us could go together to the seaside to dig holes – and hope somebody would possibly fall into them.
there may be an image people from that point that I treasure. She is staring down at my sneakers, whilst her sister, Princess Elizabeth, is asking at her as though she is doing something naughty. Much later, after I become Princess Margaret’s woman-in-waiting in 1971, I requested her about it.
a young Margaret (2nd from right) is captivated by way of Baroness Glenconner’s footwear
“Ma’am,” I said. (I at all times known as her Ma’am. It was just the way it used to be.) “i have simply discovered this old photograph. Why are you my toes?”
She answered: “You had been so lucky you have been dressed in silver shoes. All I had were brown lace-ups.”
Some Other fixed concept within the public thoughts approximately Princess Margaret is that she was once grand and condescending. I needless to say, whilst her marriage to Tony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon, was going improper, she got here out to stick with me on Mustique, the Caribbean island my husband Colin (Tennant, later Lord Glenconner) had bought in 1958.
Our space had burnt down, so we were dwelling in a prefab with out a electrical energy and no operating water. I had tried to position her off, however she insisted.
to avoid wasting her from the mosquitos, I gave her a couple of Colin’s pyjamas to put on and tied up the ground of the legs with string. She wasn’t in any respect vain.
Opposite to public opinion, Margaret used to be neither grand nor condescending Credit: hal shinnie
On subsequent journeys to Mustique, we might move swimming in combination. We had been both sturdy swimmers. She could do breaststroke; i might do a kind of sideways doggie paddle so i may keep up a talk along with her. it’s just one of the ordinary issues that we did.
Occasionally, there can be yachts moored there in the bay and they could invite us to return aboard for a drink. that they had no idea who she used to be, however she may clamber aboard and step onto the deck, dripping with water, to the amazement of the house owners.
It was once partially to check out and change received knowledge approximately her that I revealed my memoir, Lady in Waiting, in 2019. And am I happy to file that I receive many letters that say: “I never concept a lot of Princess Margaret. She all the time sounded slightly tiresome, however your e-book completely altered our manner of excited about her.”
With the 20 th anniversary of her dying, i’ve been pondering a lot about her and her legacy. there is, i might recommend, first and most effective her example of loyalty to the crown and to her sister, the Queen.
They spoke on the telephone on a daily basis. One reminiscence I treasure is while the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh came to Mustique. Britannia was once moored in the bay. Princess Margaret wanted to show the Queen her space, Les Jolies Eaux, that she had built there on land that Colin and i gave her and Tony as a marriage present.
Margaret, centre, ready with Lord and lady Glenconner (then Tennant) for the Queen to arrive on Mustique Credit: BELL RON BELL/PA Archiv
We had organized for the Duke to go swimming with sharks, at the same time as Princess Margaret and the Queen toured her house – even the bathrooms.
The Queen was once so candy along with her; the connection among them was once very touching.
that is to not say that Princess Margaret didn’t have her “royal” moments. What you have to keep in mind is that when she was once rising up, she, her sister and her folks were very much “us 4”. That was once all she knew.
and because her father was once not only the King, but also the top of an Empire that covered part the world and the last Emperor of India, Princess Margaret was brought up in an excessively royal method.
‘Us four’: Young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret flank their folks, Queen Elizabeth and King George VI Credit Score: Hulton-Deutsch Assortment/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Photographs
Besides as the 20th anniversary of her dying, this week has also observed the seventieth anniversary of the dying of George VI. I keep in mind that status with my mother and sister when his coffin used to be positioned aboard the Royal educate at Wolferton close to Sandringham.
Princess Margaret’s existence, i can’t assist considering, may were so very other if her father, whom she adored, had now not died so younger; he was once just FIFTY SIX. If he had lived longer, i think she may have long gone on and married the duke of something.
However he died and so she fell in love with Peter Townsend, the RAF flying ace who had been the King’s equerry. He was once there. He was once excellent-looking. He used to be a battle hero. And her father had famous him.
He was once additionally a divorcé with youngsters, and her sister was head of the Church of britain, so the marriage didn’t take place. Then she married Tony – and that didn’t determine. None of it could have happened if her father had lived longer.
Every Other a part of her legacy is the paintings she did as a member of the Royal circle of relatives. The charities she took on she did brilliantly. As client of the Royal Ballet, she knew the whole lot approximately ballet.
Anne Glenconner is the writer or Woman in Ready: My Abnormal Existence in the Shadow of the Crown Credit: Ben Murphy
Too regularly her contribution went ignored. While my son, Henry, had Aids within the late Eighties, so much of my pals wouldn’t come to stay. I didn’t blame them. We were terrified. We didn’t know the way you caught it.
But she at all times introduced her youngsters to stick. She always hugged Henry whilst she noticed him. and then she went to London Lighthouse, a centre for young males loss of life of Aids, ahead of the Princess of Wales went observed by a group of photographers. She wasn’t sensitive-feely like Diana, however she made the sufferers laugh. She would sit in their rooms and chat.
And, on a private degree, she was once an overly pal to me all through that length. She was at all times ringing me up and saying she had heard there may well be a remedy. There wasn’t, in fact. She came to Henry’s funeral.
no person ever talks approximately how artful she was. She was once always studying a book, no longer one thing that took place a lot in her circle of relatives.
While she came to stick with me and Colin on Mustique, the 2 of them may take a seat and do the crossword in the morning. It by no means took them long. at some point, I looked over and it used to be blank. “Oh, no longer were given a ways,” I mentioned.
“Oh, we’ve done it,” they responded, “and can’t be filling it in.”
Margaret and Colin may make quick work of a crossword Credit: Slender Aarons/ Getty
None of us girls went to college in the ones days. Princess Margaret all the time minded not being trained like her sister. The Queen had people from Oxford, Cambridge and Eton to train her. Margaret had to make do with a rather stinky French governess and poor antique Crawfie, the governess who they fell out with in the top.
I still leave out the times while she came to stay with me at my house in Norfolk on the subject of Holkham. Every Now And Then she could ensue with Marigold gloves to help me do the cleansing. all over again she introduced two mats for us to kneel on and weed the borders.
It sounds comical, however she wanted to be helpful because I didn’t have any personnel. i used to be terrified issues could get damaged as she whisked away with a feather duster.
In All Probability Princess Margaret won’t pass down in history as considered one of the great innovators in how the Royal circle of relatives operates, however she was, i think, the primary royal to be cremated. She selected it because she wanted to be buried along with her parents, and particularly with her father.
there has been no room for an extra body in his tomb in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, however her ashes had been stored until the Queen Mother died lower than months later. When she was once placed next to her husband, so too have been Princess Margaret’s ashes. It feels solely installing that she now rests in there between them.
Woman in Ready: My Strange Life in the Shadow of the Crown through Anne Glenconner (Hodder, £9.99; e-book £5.49), is accessible to reserve at books.telegraph.co.uk, or call 0844 871 1514
As informed to Peter Stanford