THE QUEEN faces a bittersweet Jubilee month as she blends her celebrations with the sadness evoked by the death anniversaries of her close family. The Queen, 95, became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee over the weekend, but Her Majesty must also contend with the anniversaries of her father and sister’s deaths within days of the Jubilee festivities. Whilst marking seventy years on the throne, the Queen remembers February 6 for another reason – her accession to the throne was triggered by the death of her father, King George VI.
She wrote in a statement: “It is a day that, even after 70 years, I still remember as much for the death of my father, King George VI, as for the start of my reign.” But, just a mere three days later, the Queen will now be remembering the life of her only sibling, Princess Margaret.
The Countess of Snowdon, the younger sister to Queen Elizabeth, died on February 9, 2002. Wednesday marks two decades since the Queen’s companion died aged 71 in London.At the time, the Queen broke the tragic news with the consolation that the Countess had been surrounded by her children as she slipped away.
A Buckingham Palace statement read: “The Queen, with great sadness, has asked for the following announcement to be made immediately. “Her beloved sister, Princess Margaret, died peacefully in her sleep this morning at 6.30am, in The King Edward VII Hospital. “Her children, Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, were at her side.
“Princess Margaret suffered a further stroke yesterday afternoon.” The Princess had suffered a number of strokes prior to the one that ultimately took her life, and was severely injured after scalding her feet in a hot bath just a year later. This accident impaired her mobility, and the Countess would then often require walking aids.
The Palace statement added: “She developed cardiac problems during the night and was taken from Kensington Palace to The King Edward VII Hospital at 2.30am.” Princess Margaret was an active and high-profile member of the Royal Family, with a reputation for drinking and partying, as well as a turbulent romantic life.
But there was more to the Countess’s life than made the headlines when she was alive, one of the Princess’s long-time friends insists on the anniversary of her death. Lady Anne Glenconner, who was a maid of honour at the Queen’s 1952 coronation, described a Princess Margaret whose character and relationship with her sister were not quite what they seemed to the public.
She remembered: “I sat with Princess Margaret, my oldest friend, a couple of days before she died. It feels like yesterday, but it is now 20 years ago.” Writing in The Telegraph on Wednesday, she wrote: “Others will remember her as someone who was always pictured in the newspapers at parties, smoking or with a drink in her hand. “That was her reputation, as a party-goer.”
She then added Princess Margaret “wasn’t at all vain”, despite the “fixed idea in the public mind” that the Countess “was grand and condescending”.
She continued: “With the 20th anniversary of her death, I have been thinking a lot about her and her legacy. “There is, I would suggest, first and foremost her example of loyalty to the crown and to her sister, the Queen.”