Inside Princess Margaret's Private Island Life on Mustique
PEOPLE tells how, far from the palace, the Queen's younger sister found a Caribbean haven when her marriage turned turbulent
After her doomed affair with the divorced Group Captain Peter Townsend (familiar to fans of the Netflix series The Crown, which dramatized her heartbreak) Princess Margaret seemed to find happiness with bohemian photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. Five years following her split from Townsend, she reportedly hurried her May 1960 wedding, trying, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to beat her former lover and his new bride to the altar. Lest her ex miss it, the nuptials were the first in royal-family history to be televised.
The couple’s big day was followed by a six-week honeymoon aboard the ship Britannia with stops at several ports, including Mustique, where the princess had been gifted a 10-acre parcel by the private island’s then owner, Colin Tennant. There, she built a vacation home, christened Les Jolies Eaux (“the beautiful waters”).
Now a new special edition of People, Royal Women: Inside the Windsors’ Lives Today, takes a deep dive into Margaret’s life on Mustique, a beachy paradise favored by celebs from Mick Jagger to Shania Twain, that provided a haven far from the Palace, but that would also figure into the end of her marriage from Earl Snowdon (Armstrong-Jones’s title after the wedding).
By 1972, after two children, 12 years together, and rumored infidelities on both sides, Snowdon began seeing Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, a divorced television researcher whom he would later marry. Not long after, the princess was introduced by Mustique’s Colin Tennant to Roderic “Roddy” Llewellyn, a gardener and aspiring pop singer 17-years her junior, whose blue Ford van became a familiar sight at the gates of Kensington Palace, her London home. In February 1974 Margaret invited Llewellyn to Les Jolies Eaux. When a photograph of Margaret and Roddy sharing a private moment later landed on the front page of the News of the World, the royal family was at last forced to issue a statement acknowledging the end of the Margaret’s marriage to Snowdon. The divorce, which became finalized in 1978, was the first official split in the immediate family of a reigning monarch since King Henry’s VIII’s annulment.
In the 2018 BBC documentary The Rebel Royal Basil Charles, former owner of Basil’s Bar on Mustique, remembered Margaret as “a trailblazer . . . a little bit of a rebel. She wanted to have the [royal] life, but she also wanted to have a normal life.” That was something she enjoyed in the relative privacy of Mustique. Remarkably, she was able to share that normalcy with her children, David Linley, a furniture designer and former head of Christie’s auction house, and Sarah Chatto, a painter living a low-key artist’s life.