Princess Margaret's affair with Roddy Llewellyn: What really happened

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent
Princess Margaret was renowned for her social life [Photo: Getty]

Princess Margaret’s affair with the baronet Roddy Llewelyn is set to be a storyline in season three of Netflix’s royal drama The Crown

New pictures snapped from the show’s set show Helena Bonham Carter, who plays the Queen’s younger sister, disembarking a plane with actor Harry Treadaway, who is playing Llewelyn.

While The Crown’s writer Peter Morgan is likely to give his own take on the story, what happened in real life?

Princess Margaret married bohemian photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960 and they had two children together, David, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah, born in 1961 and 1964 respectively. 

Cracks began to show in Margaret and Antony’s marriage in the years that followed and the pair began to lead increasingly separate lives.

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong on their wedding day in 1960 [Photo: Getty]

In the 1970s, Margaret began to retreat more and more to the Caribbean island of Mustique in an attempt to secure a private life, but her beach parties led to even more press attention. Her close friend Lord Glenconner Colin Tennant, who owned the island, is said to have introduced her to British baronet and landscape gardener Roddy Llewellyn.

At 25, he was 17 years younger than Princess Margaret and it’s believed that they conducted most of their eight year relationship on the island.

In Nicholas Courtney’s book Lord Of The Isle — The Extravagant Life And Times Of Colin Tennant, he wrote that Colin had said: “She was very bruised by her marriage and Roddy was kind to her.

“They were lovers, but it was a matter of time before [they] became devoted friends.”

In Channel 5’s documentary Elizabeth: Our Queen, Dame Anne Leslie, who also knew the pair at the time said: “He was a nice, dim gardener, but he came from quite a good family. Anyway, she was having it off with him.”

Photos of Princess Margaret and Roddy Llewellyn in Mustique appeared in the press in 1976 [Photo: Getty]

But in February 1976, the News of The World published photographs of Princess Margaret and Roddy in their swimsuits in Mustique. The press portrayed her as a predatory older woman and Llewellyn as her toyboy lover. 

In March 1976, Margaret and Antony announced their separation and their divorce was finalised two years later, earning the royal negative publicity.

Having been a heavy smoker for most of her life, Margaret’s health deteriorated in the final two decades of her life. She had a lung operation in 1985 and a bout of pneumonia in 1993 and by 2001, had suffered several strokes.

She died on February 9, 2002, aged 71, from cardiac problems, after suffering another stroke. 

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