The first televised Royal wedding was that of Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom and photographer and film maker, Antony Armstrong Jones, in May of 1960. The procession shown above is of that day, as they left in the Royal Carriage from Westminster Abbey. It was a troubled marriage from the beginning and stemmed from problems on both sides. Margaret, it seems, was truly in love with another man when she married Jones. He, on the other hand, had many opportunities for other liaisons which he never passed up. Their marriage you might say, was doomed from the start.
The marriage did not last, ending in divorce in 1978. Rumors of affairs on the part of Margaret (Mick Jagger, of the Rolling Stones Band, Actor Peter Sellers, and Australian Cricketer Keith Miller) persisted throughout the troubled marriage, but none were ever proven. Others she was reputed to have affairs with include actors David Niven, Warren Beatty and John Bindon.
In Margaret’s earlier years before Antony Armstrong Jones, there was Group Captain Peter Townsend, a divorced man, with whom Margaret was very much in love. He asked the Princess to marry him and she accepted. However, the Church of England refused to recognize marriage of a divorced person. The British Cabinet refused to approve the marriage, and the newspapers found it “unthinkable” and that it would “fly in the face of Royal and Christian tradition.” Churchill informed the Queen that the Dominion Prime Ministers were totally against the marriage and it would never be approved unless Margaret renounced her rights of succession to the throne. Clerics also told Margaret she would never be able to take communion if she married Townsend. The pressure was tremendous, and the new Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden and the Queen drew up papers allowing Margaret to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend by renouncing her rights and the line of succession to the throne of her children. Prime Minister Eden announced that Her Majesty the Queen “would not stand in the way of her sister’s happiness.” But only a few days later Margaret herself made this announcement:
“I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend. I have been aware that, subject to my renouncing my rights of succession, it might have been possible for me to contract a civil marriage. But mindful of the Church’s teachings that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before others. I have reached this decision entirely alone, and in doing so I have been strengthened by the unfailing support and devotion of Group Captain Townsend.”
And so it was over. Many people believe that had Margaret been allowed to marry Townsend with the blessing of the Crown and the Church, without condition, she would not have been so unhappy in the succeeding years. Instead, she married Antony Armstrong Jones, who himself had a promiscuity problem, and it was rumored, with both women and men! In 1970 it was obvious the marriage was on the rocks and by that time no one expected it to last. Each of them had gone their own way, making their own lives. Their divorce became final on July 11, 1978, but it was over long before that.
Antony Armstrong Jones, Lord Snowden, passed away at the age of 86, today, January 13, 2017. Princess Margaret preceded him in death on February 9, 2002.