Lord Snowdon, the former husband of Princess Margaret, died peacefully at his home on Friday, a family spokesman said. He was 86.
Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, known as Lord Snowden, wed the princess in 1960. They had two children before divorcing in 1978.
Before marrying Snowdon, Margaret had a highly-publicized relationship with Capt. Peter Townsend. The couple’s doomed love affair is featured on the hit Netflix series, The Crown.
“During the 60s, before their marriage started going wrong, they were royalty’s golden couple,” Margaret’s biographer Christoper Warwick tells PEOPLE of the royal and Lord Snowdon. “Stories about them were legion, with their star-studded parties at Kensington Palace. If you were being invited by them you were being invited to breathe in rarified air.”
Warwick says it is “utter nonsense” to propose that she married the then Tony Armstrong-Jones on the rebound from Capt. Townsend. Warwick, who wrote Princess Margaret: A Life of Contrasts, once asked the late princess if it had been true that they had got together in reaction to that affair and she retorted, “I married Tony five years after the end of Peter Townsend.”
Princess Margaret died in 2002 after suffering a stroke.
Lord Snowdon was an “innovative, progressive” photographer, designer of clothes and even designed the Aviary at London Zoo, Warwick says. “They became close after he was asked to take some private photographs and they “clicked from then on. They fell head over heels in love. It can’t be overestimated just how in love they were.”
He gave up photography to marry Margaret and regretted it, Warwick adds.
He was itching to get back to work and the Queen and Margaret urged him to do so, according to Warwick. He was then employed by The Sunday Times and traveled the world and shot celebrities and the cracks in their marriage started to appear. They had been in love and he was “rattled” when she got possessive, Warwick says.
Before then, he was known as a photographer “in the same league as Cecil Beaton and Norman Parkinson.”
In 2014, he donated a series of his photographs, including ones of David Bowie, Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier to the National Portrait Gallery.
- With reporting by SIMON PERRY