Facts and Events
Margaret spent much of her childhood years in the company of her older sister and parents. Her life changed dramatically in 1936, when her paternal uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the twice divorced American Wallis Simpson. Margaret's father became King in Edward's place, and her older sister became heiress presumptive with Margaret second in line to the throne. During World War II, the two sisters stayed at Windsor Castle, despite suggestions to evacuate them to Canada. During the war years, Margaret was considered too young to perform any official duties, and instead continued her education.
After the war, Margaret fell in love with Group Captain Peter Townsend. In 1952, Margaret's father died, her sister became sovereign, and Townsend divorced his first wife. Early the following year, he proposed to Margaret. Many in the government felt that he would be an unsuitable husband for the Queen's 22-year-old sister and the Church of England refused to countenance a marriage to a divorced man. Margaret eventually abandoned her plans and, in 1960, accepted the proposal of the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, who was created Earl of Snowdon by the Queen. The couple divorced in 1978 and Margaret never remarried.
Margaret was often viewed as a controversial member of the royal family. Her divorce earned her negative publicity and she was romantically linked with several men. Her health gradually deteriorated in the final two decades of her life; a heavy smoker all her adult life, she had a lung operation in 1985, a bout of pneumonia in 1993, and at least three strokes between 1998 and 2001. She died at King Edward VII Hospital on 9 February 2002.