How Historically Accurate Is Princess Margaret On 'The Crown'? Her Real Life Doesn't Need Improving
Netflix's original series The Crown has given fans of the British royal family an inside look into the unusual ascension and subsequent scandals surrounding Queen Elizabeth's reign. But one of The Crown's most compelling characters is the queen's younger sister, Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby). Touted as the "first Diana" in her obituary, per TIME, she was the first outwardly rebellious royal, especially in her romantic affairs. So, how accurate is Princess Margaret on The Crown?
Although the show does an amazing job of feeling like a documentary about the royal family, The Crown is still a fictionalized version of events that may take liberty with history for entertainment purposes. That being said, The Crown's creator Peter Morgan told The Atlantic he has made it a point to try and maintain as much historical accuracy as he can. Having already been involved with other historical dramatizations like Frost/Nixon and The Last King of Scotland, Morgan knows how to keep stories interesting and relatively historically accurate. In fact, the series could be accused of moving too slowly at times, but that's often due to the fact that real history sometimes isn't all that scandalous and exciting. The fact that The Crown includes many aspects of Queen Elizabeth's real life is to its credit as an accurate depiction of the events that unfolded from her coronation onward.
When it comes to Princess Margaret, fans may find her character one of the most fascinating and truly fun to watch in the series. Usually, when a character is as colorful as Margaret is on The Crown, it's a safe bet that they've been greatly exaggerated for the sake of entertainment. But fans will be happy to learn that Princess Margaret's depiction in the series is a pretty accurate representation of her in her real life.
Much of the first season of The Crown focuses on not only Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's relationship during her coronation and reign as queen, but also on the rebellious nature of the queen's younger sister, Princess Margaret. In the series, fans are privy to the (at the time) scandalous affair between Princess Margaret and Group Captain Peter Townsend. Per The Telegraph, this romance was considered scandalous because Townsend was recently divorced. The royal family had a strict policy against divorce in general. Per an article in The Washington Post, the reigning monarch was also considered the head of the Church of England, which forbade remarrying after divorce if your former spouse was still alive. Princess Margaret would not only need to get permission from her sister, the queen, to marry Townsend due to the divorce, but there was also a rule that stated she needed to ask her sister's permission because she was under the age of 25 at the time.
Permission was granted after the princess turned 25, but it came with the caveat that she would have to relinquish her royal income, rights, and titles and leave the country for a period of a few years. In the end, Princess Margaret chose to call off the marriage and remain a royal. She announced her choice in a famous statement, saying, "Mindful of the Church’s teaching that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before any others.” All of this is portrayed in the series and per Radio Times, it is all extremely accurate to what actually happened at the time.
The relationship between Margaret and Elizabeth, who Princess Margaret playfully calls "Lilibet", also seems relatively accurate. Although no one can know exactly what the relationship was truly like behind closed doors, the way Margaret reacts to Elizabeth's decision to adhere to the rules of the church in regards to her marriage to Townsendmakes a lot of sense and is at the very least believable as what may have really happened.
It also appears that the second season will focus at least partially on Princess Margaret's next romance with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones (later the Earl of Snowdon), whom she later married.
It seems like historical accuracy is something that the creators of The Crown have really tried to make a priority, especially in regards to Princess Margaret and the royal scandals that surrounded her romantic affairs. Tune in to Season 2 of The Crown, streaming Dec. 8 on Netflix to follow along.