Skip to main contentSkip to footer

The Crown: how the late Queen mourned her beloved sister Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret died in 2002

Princess Margaret in The Crown
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
Share this:

The Crown season six episode eight, The Ritz, followed the final years of Princess Margaret before she died in 2002. The heartbreaking episode detailed a magical moment from Margaret and Queen Elizabeth II’s youth where they enjoyed one night of freedom at The Ritz hotel, interspersed with Margaret’s increasingly difficult health struggles including several strokes, scalding her feet and dealing with paralysis. So what happened? 

Since The Crown is fictional while rooted in reality, several moments of the episode is made up of manufactured conversations between the Queen and Margaret, including the late monarch purchasing her sister a walking stick, and reading children's stories to her while she was ill. The final statement from the episode reads: "Princess Margaret died peacefully in her sleep at 6:30 am on 9th February 2002. She was 71."

WATCH: The Crown season six part two official trailer

In reality, the Queen mourned very privately for Margaret, with Charles giving a speech about his aunt to the public following her death. He said: "This is a terribly sad day for all of my family, but particularly of course for the Queen, my mama and grandmother, the Queen Mother. 

Queen Elizabeth ll and her sister Princess Margaret attend the Epsom Derby on June 06, 1979 © Anwar Hussein
Queen Elizabeth ll and her sister Princess Margaret attend the Epsom Derby on June 06, 1979

"For Princess Margaret’s children, David and Sarah, and also my aunt’s wonderful friends who, like all of us, will miss her deeply. My darling aunt had such a dreadful time in the last few years with her awful illness and it was hard for, let alone her to bear it, but for all of us as well. Particularly as she had such a wonderfully free spirit. 

The Crown season five recap

Imelda Staunton as The Queen in The Crown© The Crown
Imelda Staunton as The Queen in The Crown
  • Prince Charles and Princess Diana marriage breakdown

Season five began with Princess Diana devastated that their second honeymoon was halted abruptly by Princes Charles. 

  • "Queen Victoria Syndrome"

Prince Charles met with the Prime Minister after a published poll about the public's opinion of the monarchy. The idea of The Prince's Trust was born. 

  • Princess Diana In Her Own Words

Princess Diana was approached by journalist Andrew Morton to write the book, In Her Own Words. 

  • Annus Horribilis

The Queen's 'Annus Horribilis' was in 1992 following a fire at Windsor Castle, and the breakdown of two of her son's marriages. 

  • An intercepted phone call makes the news

A phone call between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles was intercepted by journalists and published in a newspaper. 

  • Panorama Interview

The infamous and now suspect Panorama interview with Princess Diana by Martin Bashir aired much to the royal family's dismay. 

"She loved life and lived it to the full… She had such incredible talents. I remember so well that she used to play the piano incredibly well… she sang like an angel, and had a wonderfully sharp mind and used to literally win Crossword competitions… We shall all miss her dreadfully. Dreadfully sad, as death is, at times like this. In a way for her it must have been a merciful release as many people would understand. For someone who was such a vital and free spirit. Might I also take this opportunity to thank all of those wonderful people who have sent in their condolences and their marvellous letters of sympathy, they are so gratefully appreciated." 

Leslie Manville plays Princess Margaret in the hit show
Lesley Manville plays Princess Margaret in the hit show

The Queen referenced her losses in her Christmas speech back in 2002, saying: "Many of you will know only too well from your own experience, the grief that follows the death of a much-loved mother or sister. Mine were very much a part of my life and always gave me their support and encouragement… But my own sadness was tempered by the generous tributes that so many of you paid to the service they gave to this country and the wider Commonwealth.

"At such a difficult time this gave me great comfort and inspiration as I faced up both to my own personal loss and to the busy Jubilee summer ahead."

princess margaret in blue coat © Getty Images
Margaret struggled with her health for many years

The Princess’s funeral was held at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, on the same day as her father King George VI was buried, 50 years earlier, and in the same place. Her mother, the late Queen Mother, attended the funeral aged 101. She died one month later. 

Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret in The Crown
© Netflix
Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret in The Crown

According to the BBC, the Queen spent an hour paying her respects at Margaret’s coffin, before she was moved to St James’s Palace. She was cremated, which was unusual for members of the royal family, but believed to be part of her wishes, which was referenced in The Crown, as she detailed to her sister what she would like for the funeral. 

More TV and Film

See more