How Party Girl Princess Margaret Helped Transform the Royal Family

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Under the guise of them being dear friends, they would holiday together at Margaret’s getaway in Mustique. Distraught by Llewellen taking off for Turkey on a vacation without her at one point, she swallowed a handful of sleeping pills, later saying, “I was so exhausted because of everything, all I wanted to do was sleep.”

In 1976, photos of Llewellen and Princess Margaret landed on the front page of News of the World, and she and Lord Snowdon were more or less forced to acknowledge the rupture of their marriage.

And it was then that Margaret, who may not have even thought it possible, insisted upon getting a divorce. Her wish was granted on July 11, 1978, making her the first royal to divorce since Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh in 1901. Snowdon, who supposedly hadn’t exactly been sitting around waiting for Margaret to come home nights, promptly remarried Lucy Lindsay-Hogg later that year.

The image of Margaret, the first “paparazzi princess” before Princess Diana—and later Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle—came along, did suffer in the public eye. No matter how much people relish a good scandal, they’re still quick to judge.

Twenty years prior, the collapse of Margaret’s relationship with Townsend had been considered more of a black mark against the rest of the royal family, accused of getting in the way of the princess’ chance at happiness. She never blamed her family, however, and would insist that the decision not to marry him was ultimately hers alone.