8. Princess Margaret And Captain Peter Townsend
In the weeks leading up to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, people were whispering about Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret. There were rumors going around about her love life, and Margaret all but confirmed them during the coronation ceremony. The only problem was the man she loved was very much her senior . . . and had already been married and recently divorced.
Captain Peter Townsend was a longtime friend and associate of the royal family. He had also recently been made “Controller of the House of the Queen Mother.” Around this time, people began commenting on how he appeared to be in a relationship with Princess Margaret. After all, they were certainly spending a lot of time together.
During Elizabeth’s coronation, Margaret was speaking passionately with Townsend, and she leaned forward to “affectionately” brush a strand of hair from his uniform. The gesture, as impulsive as it was, was immediately noticed by reporters.
Suddenly, the newly anointed Queen Elizabeth II was facing her first possible crisis of state. She loved her sister and was equally fond of Townsend, and it’s unlikely that she objected to their pairing as a matter of principle. However, as the head of the Church of England, she simply could not endorse their relationship. If they wished to marry, then Margaret would have to give up her title and inheritance.
Unlike the matter of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, the British public was relatively supportive of Margaret and Townsend’s relationship. The press, however, was less than sympathetic. In October 1954, The Times reminded the royal family of its “moral role to the nation and the Commonwealth.”
Ultimately, and perhaps rather sadly, their relationship came to an end. Both eventually married, but while Townsend settled down and raised three children, Margaret’s marriage ended in the late 1970s. Her name was also linked with several other love interests before she passed away in 2002.