Lord Snowdon, ex-husband of Princess Margaret, dies at 86

Lord Snowdon
Lord Snowdon, Anthony Armstrong Jones, shakes hands with Ringo Starr when meeting the Beatles. His then-wife Princess Margaret is at his side.

Lord Snowdon, the society photographer and filmmaker who married Britain’s Princess Margaret and continued to mix in royal circles even after their divorce, has died. He was 86.

Buckingham Palace also said that Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret’s sister, had been told of his death.

Snowdon died peacefully at his home on Friday. Photo agency Camera Press confirmed his death.

One of the country’s most famous photographers, Snowdon was one of the few top-echelon royals to hold down an outside job after he married the sister of Queen Elizabeth II in 1960, and his professional reputation grew steadily.


From the archives: Princess Margaret dies at 71; sister of the Queen »

Margaret died in 2002.

Snowdon was admired for his discretion, never speaking with the media about the breakup of the marriage in 1978, and rejecting offers to write a book about it. But over time a number of details about his own complicated love life emerged, giving him a reputation as a man with a long list of lovers and mistresses.

Born Antony Armstrong-Jones, he was a slightly bohemian member of London’s smart set and an established society photographer when he and the queen’s sister surprised the country with their engagement in February 1960.


Antony Armstrong-Jones, or Lord Snowdon, holds the hand of his bride, Princess Margaret, after their wedding May 6, 1960.
Antony Armstrong-Jones, or Lord Snowdon, holds the hand of his bride, Princess Margaret, after their wedding May 6, 1960.
(Associated Press )

They had met at a London party and managed to keep their courtship a secret in the months that followed, despite intense interest in Margaret’s romantic life.

Unconventional, artistic and not nearly as wealthy as Margaret’s other suitors, Armstrong-Jones lived in a studio in west London and did his own cooking. He was certainly not seen by the public and media as a royal prospect.

The “Jones Boy” married the high-spirited Margaret at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 1960, in the first royal wedding to be televised, and whatever doubts the country might have had about his suitability were swept aside by general relief that Margaret had, at last, found love.

It had been five years since her widely publicized decision to end her romance with divorced war hero Peter Townsend after pressure from church leaders, political figures and her own family.

Armstrong-Jones was named the Earl of Snowdon in October 1961, in time to give a title to their first child, David, Viscount Linley, born the following month. Linley became a successful furniture designer. His sister, Lady Sarah, born in May 1964, became a painter.

Princess Margaret, unlike most of the royal family, shared her husband’s interest in the arts, and the two moved in a circle of creative people at a time when “swinging London” gained a worldwide reputation for music, clothes, films and clubs.

In 1969, Snowdon designed the setting for the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales at Caernarvon Castle in Wales.



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