A life without love is no life at all.
What is it about love stories that touch our heart and leave us spellbound? The way they define the zealous love between two souls, their devotion and how passionately they feel for each other. Which often makes people go gaga over them. Of course, love stories are not always the fairy-tales-coming-true because each one of them goes through their fair share of struggles. One such heart-breaking 20th-century love story from the history of Britain is of Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend.
These names may sound similar to you if you have been binge watching Netflix series- The Crown just like me. Just two seasons of this series are out, which gives you more than sneak peeks to the life and history of the royal family and the engaging love story of Peter and Margaret.
Princess Margaret was the younger daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and the sister of Queen Elizabeth II. Peter Townsend was a Royal Air Force officer who served as an equerry to King George VI from 1944 to 1952. There was a huge gap of 16 years between Margaret and Peter but that never stopped them from falling in love with each other. The ethereal beauty, sense of humor and beautiful eyes of Margaret won the heart of Peter and what attracted her towards him that he was a handsome war veteran quite mature than the other boys of her age.
If you dig a bit, you may find several speculative stories regarding the striking romance between these two. Some suggest that their love-affair started in the year 1947 when they accompanied each other to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the christening of Margaret’s first ship, the Edinburgh Castle. Margaret was 17 years old then and Townsend was 32, who was at that time married with two kids. Other stories advise that it was in 1952 after the death of King George VI that Margaret fell in love with Peter after his divorce from his wife.
In 1953, the Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation took place at Westminster Abbey, which was broadcasted to the commoners through television. It was at this event, that a media journalist saw Margaret picking a piece of lint from the lapel of Peter and captured in his camera. Next day, it became a sensational news on the front page of the newspaper and was open to every citizen to discuss the love affair between a royal and a divorced commoner.
Peter proposed Margaret for marriage, but he was not considered the perfect match and their romantic engagement raised quite a few eyebrows in the royal family. Divorce was considered a taboo at that time in the history and the Church of England did not approve of the dissolution of marriage. Queen Elizabeth II was head of the Church who faced obstacles in permitting her sister, Margaret to marry Peter. So a pact was made to keep both of them separate for two years till Margaret turns 25 after which she wouldn’t require the permission of Queen to marry the man of his choice.
After their separation of two years when they met again all ready to start a married life of their own, something undesirable took place. Now to Marry Peter, Margaret had to give up her royal privileges and income and that she would be stripped off her right to the succession of the throne. It was a tough decision to make for Margaret and she decided to not marry Peter that left her brokenhearted. She announced that being a strong follower of Church’s teachings that suggests Christian marriage is indissoluble, she decided not to marry Peter and put her duty to the Commonwealth before everything else. Following which Margaret broke her relationship with Peter in 1955 and the most scandalous marriage of that time never occurred.
It was a sad episode to their dreamy love-story that left both of them heartbroken. Despite the acceptance and support from people, it was crucified for the honor of the royal family. It breaks our heart to see two people not being able to spend their life together who were crazy about each other and went through so much for the sake of their love. But their turbulent romance did contribute to changing British minds about marriage and divorce.
Their story was forgotten over time amidst the affairs of the royal family but never lost its charm, for the matter of fact. If you are keen to observe these characters carefully and want to discover more about their lives, then do catch up the Season 1 and 2 of famous Netflix series, The Crown. You will be highly influenced by witnessing their torrid affair on-screen that actual characters shared in 20th-century in Britain.