Princess Margaret

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 Jul 2017

Member Reviews

Princess Margaret saw Tommy Lascelles (the Queen's Private Secretary) walking by one day and remarked: ‘There goes the man who ruined my life’.  She blamed him for preventing her marrying handsome and divorced Captain Peter Townsend, the great love of her life. She could have married him, but it would have meant a civil marriage, giving up her title and privileges and a long exile overseas. It probably wouldn’t have worked out anyway, but it was extremely unfair.




Theo Aronson in this rather factual and not terribly sympathetic biography, written while the Princess was still alive, rightly emphasizes this love affair and the huge effect that it had on her life. For example, he writes that she only accepted Lord Snowden’s proposal after she learned of Townsend’s engagement.  As her remark showed, the Princess probably never got over Townsend, not a good way to start a marriage!



Aronson discusses Princess Margaret’s personality, which seems to have been full of contradictions. Her royal duties were underestimated, for example, and she was also very religious with a preference for Anglo-Catholicism. However, this didn’t prevent her living a rather purposeless and jet-setting life which made headlines in the press and having affairs, including a strange one with a much younger and unknown man called Roddy Llewellyn.  She could also be extremely rude, according to this book, and stand very much on privilege.



This is worth reading if you are interested in the Royals or just Princess Margaret. I couldn’t help feeling that some of the anecdotes were rather nasty, however.



I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
If you have always wanted to be a princess and live in a palace, perhaps reading this biography might change your mind. 

Princess Margaret was the younger daughter of King George VI, whom she adored, and Queen Elizabeth (the current Queens's mother) She was sister to Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in England's history, and one supposes both of these girls led a life of charm, wealth, prestige, and honor. Elizabeth went on to becoming queen at her father's death while Margaret went on to becoming a much maligned jet setter who earned a reputation for being quite controversial in all she did and especially in her choices of men. Forced to give up a man she loved, Peter Townsend, because he was divorced, she eventually married photographer, Antony Armstrong-Jones, had two children and embarked on a road to a very shaky marriage. Later, they divorced and Margaret's name was linked to many other men.

Margaret was brash, outspoken, and very often the brunt of newspaper headlines that portrayed her as wanton, snobbish, and impulsive. Margaret once said  "It was inevitable, when there are two sisters and one is the Queen, who must be the source of honour and all that is good, while the other must be the focus of the most creative malice, the evil sister."

It was often sad to read of Margaret's life. She always seemed to be in the spotlight and many of her remarks and activities were taken out of context. In a way, one might say that Margaret was born before her time. She was a strong advocate of the arts, especially ballet, loved couture clothes, and represented her nation in countless ways. 

In reality for Princess Margaret being royal, living in a palace, being a Princess was often a nightmare. She handled this role as well as she could with the undeniable ability to be her own person with not a care as to who liked it or not. In the end Margaret paved the way for divorce in the royal family and some think that was her legacy. 

Thank you to Theo Aronson, Thistle Publishing, and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
Detailed and enjoyable book. I have seen various documentaries about Margaret but really hadn't read much about her. This was a good one to jump in with. She certainly was always and interesting woman.
Was this review helpful?
This is the most detailed biography of the life of Princess Margaret that I have had the pleasure of reading.  The detail is astonishing  and I felt that you got to know more about the struggles she had within her life as "the spare" to start with once her sister Princess Elizabeth took the throne and then more so to try and carve a life for herself  outside of that.  She certainly lived her life as a royal and enjoyed all the trappings that go with that.  She had her inner circle that looked after her but she struggled to find contentment for long.  This biography has been wonderfully written. I found it hard to put down.  I wished there had been more written about her final days especially as the book was published before her death.  Nevertheless this did not take anything away from the book itself.  I really enjoyed reading it .
Was this review helpful?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  It is well researched and the author has written well, about Princess Margaret, whose life is well documented.  The author manages to bring her alive within the pages, you have a real sense of her attitude, her priviledge and her sadness.  Excellent book.
Was this review helpful?
This biography on Princess Margaret was well written and kept me reading from cover to cover. It gave a very good overview of her life and relationships as a princess and as a young woman who had all the privileges in life.

My only complaint is that no effort was made at all to update it - there were a few sentences in the book that made it sound as though Princess Margaret is still alive and it does not end in the Princess' death. I may have given 5 stars instead of 3 if it had been brought up to date.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Princess Margaret is a sympathetic and unique look at the sister of the current Queen of England. Fans of the show The Crown will greatly enjoy this book and the deeper exploration of the life of one of the most misunderstood monarchs.
Was this review helpful?
This book outlines the life of Princess Margaret of England.  It is very comprehensive and well researched.  At times, the author appeared biased as he discussed certain individuals, particularly towards the second half of the book.  Further, I don't understand why the book, originally published in 2013, discusses Margaret as if she was still alive.  It stops a few years before her death and funeral, making the book incomplete.  Overall, an interesting read.
Was this review helpful?
I have read some other books on the Windsors; one about Queen Elizabeth's father, King George, one about the Queen Mother and one about the Queen. You may feel quite sympathetic towards the late Princess Margaret, when you have finished this biography. Its well written and addresses a lot of the misinformation about her. She seems to be remembered largely for her relationships with men, which weren't all bad, and for being a royal sponger. You get a much better picture of Margaret thanks to the author's good research. It is worth noting that Margaret was still alive when the book was published, as was the Queen Mother, so I think Aronson may have had some support in that direction when writing it. Times have changed so much, I think Margaret might have had a much happier personal life had she been born a decade or two later than she was. The impression I took away from this is that the Princess was an intelligent, energetic woman who's position in society boxed her in too much and may have played a significant part in  bringing out more of her less attractive qualities. Good read.
Was this review helpful?
A fast paced book with lots of enjoyable quotes.  Factual rather than gossipy.  Lots of history included.  A truly enjoyable biography.  A great deal of sources cited which adds credibility.  Enjoy!  NetGalley and Thistle Publishing provided an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely loved the book, not being a royalist myself  and having vague recollection of Princess Margaret this book was a joy to read. Of a Princess without a cause who led a tragic life trying to live up to very high standards of Royalty yet having a longing to be a normal person who could go anywhere and do anything without being in the spotlight.
Was this review helpful?
Theo Aronson has written a very thorough and enjoyable history of Princess Margaret's life. Starting from her birth at Glamis castle in an era when Britain was an empire and the royal family exclusive and steeped in tradition, Aronson follows Margaret through her childhood, her uncle's abdication, WWII, her sisters marriage, her early popularity and lifestyle, her doomed affair with Peter Townsend, failed marriage to Armstrong-Jones, motherhood and search for happiness and purpose. Aronson does not gloss over Princess Margaret's faults, they are mentioned, such as her haughtiness, untimeliness and her inflated sense of grandiosity. It does however also paint a picture of a woman who was born into unusual circumstances at a time when society was changing rapidly and the importance of people like her perhaps diminishing. Overall I very much enjoyed reading about Princess Margaret's life.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley only a few weeks. Therefore I was surprised that the book dealt with its subject as if Princess Margaret was still alive and did not cover her death in 2002. I do feel it would have made more sense to update the book before republication.
Was this review helpful?
Finally! A biography done right. 

The biography itself was wonderfully written. I found myself drawn to this woman, her spunk, and the way she lived her life as a royal. I ended the book wishing for more, and that is rare in a biography. Considering this was published prior to her death, I felt a little sad towards the end; I had hoped to have more of an insight into her final days. I initially assumed this book was published after her death. However, it was still a delightful read and I am so grateful that I was able to "meet" the Princess Margaret in this way.
Was this review helpful?
I thoroughly enjoyed this biography of Princess Margaret.  Being 60 years old, I remember a lot of the news about her, and have always been curious to know more.

The biography painted a vivid picture of a beautiful, tragic princess who was a victim (and a beneficiary) of the times she lived in.  The book starts with her early, idealized childhood, her years as a beautiful young princess, her tragic love for Peter Townsend, her souring marriage to Anthony Armstrong-Jones, her (once again) tragic love for Roddy Llewelyn, and her declining, lonely latter years.  One jarring note in the book was that it appeared to have been written BEFORE 2002, when the Princess died, because it used the present tense and ended on a note of continuation!

However, if you enjoy stories about the British Royalty, you would certainly enjoy this biography about Princess Margaret - the "Diana of her time"!
Was this review helpful?
Princess Margaret: A Biography by Theo Aronson is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early June.

Being introduced to a facsimile of HRH Princess Margaret in Netflix' The Crown and the real Margaret during her biting observations in Elizabeth at 90: A Family Portrait, I was delighted to learn more about her in Aronson's biography. She is indeed an outgoing, fashionable, witty woman who is loyal to her friends and family, and loves to travel, sing, drink, smoke, and attend parties, but is also stubborn, unpredictable, and somewhat prone to heartbreak and betrayal.
Was this review helpful?
I've always been fascinated by Princess Margaret and this book didn't let me down.
 As a young woman, she was undoubtedly stunningly beautiful and had the love life that unfortunately follows great beauty. In complete contrast to Queen Elizabeth, her sister, life was a long roller coaster and she was everything her sister was not.
 I enjoyed reading about the hypocrisy she showed to Princess Diana and the Duchess of York whom she believed to have brought shame on to the royal family!
I would have liked to read about the more controversial side of her life and an update to include the details of her death would be a great addition. The book references the Princess' failing health in the concluding chapters and it leaves the reader wondering exactly how and where she died.
An informative, balanced and fair biography written by Theo Aronson, about one of the most controversial royals ever. His insights are partially personal or from sources linked very close to the princess and can be relied upon completely.,
Was this review helpful?
Being an Anglophile and an avid reader of English Royalty biographies, I was immediately drawn to this one of Princess Margaret. I have often read of her unfortunate dashed hopes of marrying divorcee Captain Peter Townsend, but have never read an entire biography of Princess Margaret's life until this one.

It is very well-written and had me solidly engaged for days. It begins with her parents' eventual marriage, of which took three proposals for her mother to accept. It was enchanting reading about Princess Margaret's childhood, with the lovely homes she occupied, the doting and dedicated help that taught and cared for her, and the very close and loving family the King and Queen and her older sister Princess Elizabeth enjoyed. It also covers how Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth as children experienced World War II in England and the challenges that entailed.

As she grew into adulthood, the huge scandal of her wish to marry divorcee Captain Peter Townsend garners much discussion, as well as her eventual marriage to photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones (later known as Lord Snowden). These are the widely known relationships of Princess Margaret, but this book covers several other serious romantic entanglements and very close friendships.

The book offered an excellent and very detailed overview of Princess Margaret's life. The only reason I took off one star was that it clearly was not updated since it was originally published in hardcover form in 1997. I know that Princess Margaret passed away in 2002, yet it only covers some hospitalizations for strokes as the book comes to a close. In fact, I was unaware that I had just finished the book, expecting to read of her death and details of her funeral (which would have been very interesting). Still, I would highly recommend this fine book on the life of Princess Margaret.
Was this review helpful?
This is a reissue I assume as I previously read it. Nothing new in this edition.
Was this review helpful?
A fascinating look at a complicated and misunderstood woman who, despite having everything most people could only dream about, lacked what everyday people take for granted.  It was well written and well researched and I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in British history.
Was this review helpful?
Theo Aronson is very thorough in his books about royalty. This book carries a publication date of 2013 and since the Princess Margaret passed in 2002, I thought it would be a complete biography, but it's not. The author leaves off before her death.  That was a big disappointing to me.  Apparently it was published well before her death. It was good, though.
Was this review helpful?