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Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong Jones' marriage – a look back at their relationship timeline

The late Countess of Snowdon had quite the relationship with the photographer

Princess Margaret holding a bouquet of flower standing next to Antony Armstrong-Jones
Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
29 March 2024
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Although Princess Margaret fell in love with Peter Townsend, their relationship was never to be and despite a proposal, their engagement was forbidden by the late Queen.

However, Margaret was still able to find love, with the royal eventually settling down with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones after successfully keeping their relationship out of the public eye for many years. The duo wed in 1960 and would go on to welcome children David Armstrong-Jones and Lady Sarah Chatto.

However, the couple's relationship ultimately did not go the distance with the pair eventually separating in 1976 before officially divorcing in 1978. Although Margaret did not find another long-term partner, Antony would go on to remarry. Chart the couple's relationship from the highs to the lows below…

1958 – The couple's first meeting

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones at an opera© Getty Images
Margaret and Antony met at a private party

Romance was not in the air when Margaret and Antony first crossed paths, with the duo meeting at a private party that had been thrown by Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, who was one of Margaret's ladies-in-waiting.

The couple wouldn't formally meet until later on that year when the photographer was commissioned to capture a portrait of the royal; the year before Antony had been commissioned to capture portraits of the late Queen and Duke of Edinburgh and their children, Charles and Anne.

The couple managed to keep their relationship under wraps with author Anne de Courcy telling Town & Country: "Yes, he would join her at parties, but no one could pinpoint which man she was interested in. The press focused more on the ones who were seen to be eligible. They didn't think of Tony who was often in the background."

October 1959 – The couple get engaged

Much as their relationship was kept under wraps, the couple's proposal was also a private affair. Antony reportedly proposed to Margaret on the same day that she learnt her ex-love, Peter Townsend, was engaged.

February 1960 – Engagement announced

Antony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret; Margaret is holding a flower© Hulton Archive
Antony reportedly designed the stunning engagement ring

The couple went public with their engagement on 27 February 1960. Speaking years after the engagement, Margaret's granddaughter Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones revealed that Antony designed the engagement ring himself.

The star told Tatler: "[It was] very simple and very small and I think that's probably what he wanted, nothing crazy and overstated."

May 1960 – Wedding bells

Antony Armstrong-Joens and Princess Margaret surrounded by bridesmaids© Keystone-France
The pair married in 1960 - Margaret's niece Princess Anne was one of the bridesmaids

On 6 May 1960, the couple walked down the aisle at Westminster Abbey. The pair's nuptials were historic for a couple of reasons, one being it was the first time a King's daughter had married a commoner, and it was the first-ever royal wedding to be televised – an estimated 300 million viewers tuned in.

Due to her father having passed away years before, Margaret was given away by her brother-in-law Prince Philip and following the wedding the royal couple were granted the titles of the Count and Countess of Snowdon.

The royal bride's wedding dress has gone on to become one of the most iconic royal gowns thanks to its beautiful simplicity. The silk organza gown was created by Norman Hartnell, the same designer who made the Queen's wedding dress, and featured long sleeves and a full skirt using over 30 metres of fabric.

November 1961 – The couple's first child

Princess Margaret holding a baby David Armstrong-Jones. Also in the photo are Antony Armstrong-Jones and the Queen Mother© Hulton Archive
David was born in 1961

Happiness came for the couple on 3 November 1961 when the pair welcomed their first child, a son, David Armstrong-Jones. David has since founded his own furniture company and welcomed his own children: Charles Armstrong-Jones and Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, who was named in honour of Margaret.

May 1964 – The couple welcome a second child

Antony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret with David Armstrong-Jones and a baby Lady Sarah Chatto© Fox Photos
Lady Sarah was born in 1964

Just days before the couple celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary, Margaret and Antony welcomed their second child, Lady Sarah Chatto. Lady has grown up to become a talented artist and has welcomed two sons, Samuel and Arthur Chatto.

March 1976 – Cracks show as the couple separate

Margaret and Antony reportedly had a tumultuous marriage with numerous affairs and the couple decided to separate in 1976, 16 years after they tied the knot. On 19 March 1976, Buckingham Palace released a statement reading: "HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, and the Earl of Snowdon have mutually agreed to live apart. The Princess will carry out her public duties and functions unaccompanied by Lord Snowdon. There are no plans for divorce proceedings."

July 1978 – The couple divorce

Black-and-white photo of Antony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret at JFK Airport© Tom Wargacki
Cracks formed and the pair eventually divorced

On 24 May 1978, the couple's decree nisi was granted and the divorce was finalised on 11 July 1978. According to Andrew Morton, who wrote the late Princess Diana's biography, Margaret was devastated by the divorce, and had wanted the relationship to succeed.

DISCOVER: Royals announcing marriage breakdowns: From King Charles' amicable split to Peter Phillips' secret separation

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

Speaking on Fox News, he claimed: "She was a deeply Christian woman who had her own desires that often conflicted with her faith and she struggled. She desperately wanted the marriage to work, but there were too many challenges."

Despite the divorce, Margaret and Antony remained on friendly terms with one another up until the Countess died on 9 February 2002. Antony died on 13 January 2017.

LISTEN: Our Right Royal Podcast discusses the Palace's PR crisis...

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