Princess Margaret

Born on August 21, 1930, at Glamis in Scotland, Princess Margaret Rose was blessed with both rank and wealth. Her father's darling King George VI indulged his second-born to allay her fears that she had been born to be second best she grew into a beautiful woman with a stunning, hourglass figure and an almost movie-star aura.

The Diana of her day, her fun-loving lifestyle attracted interest around the world, and her friendships with glamorous movie stars and glitzy aristocrats became known as the "Margaret Set."

She was often to be found surrounded by a bevy of eligible young men, but it was a divorcé 16 years her senior, Group Captain Peter Townsend, who finally won her heart. It was made clear to the Princess that she could not have both her man and her birthright, and, in November 1955, in a "duty before love statement", she announced they would not marry.

Later she was to meet photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones (made Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley by the Queen around the time of their marriage), just five months older than her, who appealed to her fun-loving and artistic nature. They were married in Westminster Abbey on May 6, 1960, but, two children and 16 years later, the couple were granted a decree nisi.

One legacy of her marriage was Les Jolies Eaux, the Mustique house built on land given to the princess as a wedding present by her close friend Lord Glenconner. The island was to serve as a refuge from British winters for many years, but sadly was also the scene of two episodes which took an immense toll on her health and wellbeing.

In 1998, the Princess, who had been a 60-a-day smoker until a bout of pneumonia in 1973, was dining with some friends when she suddenly collapsed. She had suffered a stroke. A year later, an accident in which she badly scalded her feet had an equally debilitating effect, and following these combined setbacks Margaret seemed to lose much of the vitality of her earlier years and she was forced to scale down her public engagements.

In her time, however, she was an active supporter of numerous organisations. One of the first she joined was the Brownies, in 1937. She also served as President and Chairman of the Brownies' older sister, the Girl Guides Association. A lifelong interest in music and ballet gave her the Presidency of the Royal Ballet in 1957 and the same year the Princess, who apparently had an excellent singing voice, was made an Honorary Doctor of Music of London University.

Her children, David, Viscount Linley, and Lady Sarah Chatto, have proved to be a chip off the old block and are both very artistic - David is a furniture maker and Sarah an accomplished artist. They were very close to their mother and presented the Princess with three grandchildren, on whom she doted.

In recent years Margaret had been diagnosed as suffering from depression and, over Christmas 2000, was hospitalised with appetite problems. She suffered another stroke in March 2001, and her appearances in public became scarce.

On Friday, February 8, 2002, Princess Margaret was admitted to hospital following yet another stroke and, after developing further cardiac problems overnight, passed away peacefully in her sleep in the early hours of the following morning.

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