Princess Margaret is now play by Helena Bonham Carter, but the royal's rollercoaster love life continues in season 3 of The Crown

By Stephanie Petit
November 19, 2019 04:42 PM
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Princess Margaret‘s rollercoaster love life continues in season 3 of The Crown, as the Netflix hit tackles the dissolution of her marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones — and her affair with a man 17 years her junior.

The Crown fans saw Queen Elizabeth‘s younger sister’s doomed romance with the divorced Peter Townsend and rushed marriage to Armstrong-Jones (she was determined to beat Townsend to the altar, as he also became engaged), in the first two seasons of the show. Now, Helena Bonham Carter takes over for Vanessa Kirby as Margaret for season 3 — but the character’s love life doesn’t get any less interesting.

Princess Margaret married Armstrong-Jones, the bohemian photographer who was given the title of Earl Snowdon, in May 1960 — but there were issues even before their walk down the aisle. Armstrong-Jones had been sleeping with Camilla Fry, the wife of one of his oldest friends, Jeremy… and she became pregnant. Camilla gave birth to a daughter, Polly, just three weeks into Margaret and Armstrong Jones’ honeymoon. However, it wasn’t until many years later — 2004, to be exact — that Polly learned that Armstrong-Jones was her biological father through a DNA test.

Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty

The photographer’s complex love life didn’t end there. Addressing rumors of his bisexuality, he once said, “I didn’t fall in love with boys, but a few men have been in love with me.”

The decision to marry Margaret was a difficult one for Armstrong-Jones, according to Craig Brown in the biography Ma’am Darling: “There was so much he would have to give up, not least his other girlfriends, one of whom confided to a friend that Tony had wept on her bare breasts at the prospect of getting married to royalty.”

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

By 1972 — after 12 years together, two children and rumored infidelities on both sides — Snowdon began seeing Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, a divorced television researcher whom he would later marry.

Not long after, Margaret was introduced to Roderic “Roddy” Llewellyn, a gardener and aspiring pop star 17 years younger than her. In February 1974, Margaret invited Llewellyn to Les Jolies Eaux, her four-bedroom villa on the Caribbean island of Mustique.

When a photograph of Margaret and Llewellyn 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.

Roddy Llewellyn and Princess Margaret
Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty

Llewellyn and Margaret’s relationship continued after her separation from her husband in what became in an eight-year romance.

Bonham Carter told the Sunday Times that she met with the real-life Llewellyn: “He came to tea with me and Harry [Treadaway], who plays Roddy. He was so fun and warm — that’s what she needed. He’s very musical. He started singing a song in my kitchen.”

“He said they found each other just at the right time,” the actress added. They were both very lost, both felt somewhat outsiders, just not quite accepted by the family—or not quite good enough. Her confidence was really undermined by the breakdown of her marriage. He also gave her fun at a time when she hadn’t been having much.”

Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret
Julian Broad for EW

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Off-screen, 53-year-old Bonham Carter is dating 32-year-old writer Rye Dag Holmboe — mirroring Princess Margaret’s relationship age gap.

Speaking to The Times, the Oscar nominee said that her real-life romance didn’t give her any insight to playing Margaret.

“It’s strange, though,” Bonham Carter said. “It was odd timing that I seem to have a similar age gap as her, but I think it would have happened whether I was playing her or not.”