Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones' Relationship Timeline

From their secret meetings to their history-making divorce, here’s a recap of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones’ relationship

Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) and Antony Armstrong-Jones in the grounds of Royal Lodge after they announced their engagement
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones' marriage was far from charmed, but it was one of the most historically significant in royal history.

The pair, who met at a dinner party in the late '50s, were unconventional from the start, conducting their love affair in secret until their engagement announcement in February 1960. Three months later, the couple tied the knot.

Though the couple welcomed two children together, David Armstrong-Jones in 1961 and Lady Sarah Chatto in 1964, their marriage was largely riddled with strife and infidelity, with both the Countess and the Count of Snowdown reportedly engaging in numerous extramarital affairs.

"During the 60s, before their marriage started going wrong, they were royalty's golden couple," Princess Margaret's biographer Christoper Warwick told PEOPLE of the pair. "Stories about them were legion, with their star-studded parties at Kensington Palace. If you were being invited by them you were being invited to breathe in rarified air."

In July 1976, they became the very first senior royal couple to end their marriage since King Henry VIII had his marriage to Anne of Cleves annulled 438 years prior in 1540.

In doing so, Margaret would pave the way for other royals, such as her nephew King Charles III Prince Charles and niece Princess Anne, to do the same. "She did tarnish the family's reputation but she cleared the way for others to get out of unhappy marriages," ex-royal BBC correspondent Jennie Bond said in a Channel 5 documentary titled Princess Margaret: A Rebel Without a Crown.

Keep reading to find out more about Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones' relationship.

1958: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones meet

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones attend the Royal Ballet at the MET circa May 1974 in New York City
PL Gould/Images/Getty

Princess Margaret met her future husband at a dinner party in 1958. It wasn't the photographer's first run-in with the royal family, however. Two years prior, he was commissioned to take the photographs for Prince Charles' 8th birthday party, and the Queen reportedly loved the results so much that she brought him back one year later to photograph her family at Buckingham Palace.

1958: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones begin a secret love affair

The royal and Armstrong-Jones were discreet in the early days of their union.

"Nobody knew about their relationship, there wasn't a whisper about it," Lord Snowdon's biographer, Anne de Courcy, wrote. "She would see him in secret at his studio and yes, he would join her at parties, but no one could pinpoint which man she was interested in. The press focused more on the ones who were seen to be eligible. They didn't think of Tony, who was often in the background."

October 1959: Antony Armstrong-Jones visits Princess Margaret at Balmoral

Armstrong-Jones continued to court Margaret in plain sight, even visiting her at Balmoral in October 1959. As de Courcy wrote in her biography of Snowdon, as seen in an excerpt published by Vanity Fair in January 2009, "No one attached any significance to his visit, assuming that he was there in a professional capacity."

1959: Antony Armstrong-Jones proposes to Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret Countess of Snowdon (1930 - 2002) dancing with her husband Antony Armstrong-Jones - 1st Earl of Snowdon at the Canadian Women's Club Centenary Ball at Grosvenor House, London
Len Trievnor/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty

The photographer proposed to the princess while visiting Wildcome Manor, the home of his friends Jeremy and Camilla Fry, who had offered the space as a "safe house" to the couple, according to de Courcy. Armstrong-Jones reportedly popped the question with a ring of rubies and diamonds that was in the shape of a rosebud — a nod to his future bride's middle name of Rose.

Marrying a royal wasn't an easy decision for Armstrong-Jones, per Ma'am Darling biographer Craig Brown. "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," Brown said.

Former cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken was reportedly told by Margaret that her decision to marry Armstrong-Jones came on the heels of news that her former love Townsend had announced his own plans to marry. "I received a letter from Peter in the morning, and that evening I decided to marry Tony," she was later quoted as saying. "I didn't really want to marry at all. Why did I? Because he asked me! Really, though, he was such a nice person in those days. In a way he introduced me to a new world."

February 26, 1960: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones announce their engagement

27th February 1960: Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) and Antony Armstrong-Jones in the grounds of Royal Lodge on the day they announced their engagement
Hulton Archive/Getty

The couple announced their intent to wed on Feb. 26, 1960 — one week after the birth of Margaret's nephew, Prince Andrew.

May 6, 1960: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones get married

princess margaret

Princess Margaret and Armstrong-Jones said their "I do's" in a historic ceremony on May 6, 1960, marking the first time a king's daughter had married a commoner in 400 years.

The lavish event took place at Westminster Abbey in London, with Princess Margaret dressed in a gorgeous silk organza piece by Norman Harnell that featured nearly 100 feet of fabric in its full skirt. The bride broke tradition by opting to wear the Poltimore Tiara, a piece she bought at auction, over one in the Windsor family's collection.

1960: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones go on a romantic honeymoon

Liberty Print Royals
Historic Royal Palaces

The couple embarked on a six-week honeymoon to islands including Trinidad and Antigua aboard the royal yacht Brittania.

May 28, 1960: Antony Armstrong-Jones has a child with Camilla Fry

While Armstrong-Jones was rumored to have many affairs throughout the course of his relationship with Princess Margaret, the most shocking was perhaps the one he had with Fry, the wife of his best friend Jeremy. Their daughter, Polly Fry, was born on May 28, 1960, less than one month into Armstrong-Jones' new marriage. Jeremy was presumed to be the father, but DNA tests confirmed in 2004 that Armstrong-Jones was Polly's biological dad.

October 1961: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones receive new titles

One year after becoming a member of the royal family, Armstrong-Jones was given the official title of Earl of Snowdon, while his new wife became the Countess of Snowdon.

November 1, 1961: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones welcome their first child

The twosome became parents one year into their marriage with the birth of their son, David Armstrong-Jones. The baby was born at Clarence House, which was Princess Margaret's home following Queen Elizabeth's ascension to the throne.

May 1, 1964: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones welcome their second child

1964: Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) with Lord Snowdon and Viscount Linley at Kensington Palace shortly after the birth of her daughter, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones
Fox Photos/Getty

Three years later, a little girl, Sarah, was born to the couple via C-section. She was born at the couple's home, then Kensington Palace.

1966: Princess Margaret begins an affair with Anthony Barton

In her Snowdon biography, de Courcy claimed that Princess Margaret began an affair with Armstrong-Jones' university friend, Anthony Barton, in 1966 to get back at her husband for his own infidelities. These dalliances were reportedly discovered by Anthony's wife, Eva, when he left a letter from Margaret lying around their home.

According to the book, Armstrong-Jones was upset about the affair, despite his own reported indiscretions. "He went to Barton in tears, but tried to cover his red eyes and sniffs by explaining: 'I've got a terrible cold,' " read one excerpt.

1967: Antony Armstrong-Jones takes an unconventional photo of Princess Margaret

Professional photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, the Earl of Snowdon, watches critically as his fiancee Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) takes a snap at the Badminton Horse Trials

Armstrong-Jones photographed his wife and kids a few times throughout their relationship. He shot Margaret's 29th birthday portrait in 1959 and snapped another photo of her in 1967. Both showed the princess with bare shoulders.

1972: Antony Armstrong-Jones reportedly has an affair with Lucy Lindsay-Hogg

The Earl of Snowdon reportedly took up with Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, a woman he would later marry and father a child with, in 1972.

1973: Princess Margaret meets British garden designer Roddy Llewellyn

Princess Margaret with her husband, born Antony Armstrong-Jones, photographer Lord Snowdon attend Badminton Horse Trials on April 18, 1970 in Badminton, England
Anwar Hussein/WireImage

In 1973, Princess Margaret met Roddy Llewellyn at the Café Royal in Edinburgh, Scotland, whom she would embark on her own eight-year relationship with.

"He said they found each other just at the right time," Helena Bonham Carter, who played Margaret on The Crown, told the Sunday Times of a conversation she had with Llewellyn. "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."

1976: Princess Margaret and Roddy Llewellyn vacation in Mustique

Photos of Margaret and her Llewellyn alone in their swimsuits hit the front page of News of the World in 1976, causing a major scandal for the royal family. It was these photos that Armstrong-Jones reportedly cited as his reasoning for leaving his already-strained marriage.

March 20, 1976: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones separate

16 years after the pair wed, the couple announced their separation. ​​"Her royal highness, the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, and the Earl of Snowdon have mutually agreed to live apart," read a statement from Kensington Palace. "The Princess will carry out her public duties and functions unaccompanied by Lord Snowdon. There are no plans for divorce proceedings."

April 6, 1978: Buckingham Palace supports Princess Margaret amid her affair

Shortly after her separation was announced, Buckingham Palace said that the princess would retain her privileges as a royal despite her public affair.

May 10, 1978: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones announce their divorce

Two years later, another official statement was issued from Kensington Palace announcing that the pair had decided to end their marriage after all. "Her Royal Highness, the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, and the Earl of Snowdon after two years of separation have now agreed that their marriage should formally be ended. Accordingly, Her Royal Highness will start the necessary legal proceedings."

The princess's spokesman also issued a statement at the time, noting that Margaret had no plans to remarry. "The marriage has broken down and the couple have lived apart for two years," he said. "These are obviously the grounds for divorce. Naturally, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon will continue to see each other on the same friendly basis as they have with each other over the last two years."

July 11, 1978: Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones' divorce is finalized

By July, the couple's split was official. It was a historic event, as theirs marked the first royal marriage to end in the immediate family since King Henry VIII, who annulled his marriage to Anne of Cleves in 1540 — more than 400 years earlier.

December 1978: Antony Armstrong-Jones marries Lucy Lindsay-Hogg

Just months after ending his marriage to the princess, the Earl of Snowdon remarried Lindsay-Hogg, a woman he was reported to have been involved with during his marriage to Margaret.

October 8, 1993: David Armstrong-Jones marries Serena Stanhope

The Earl Of Snowdon, Lady Sarah Armstrong-jones And Princess Margaret Arriving For David Linley's Wedding
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty

Princess Margaret and the Earl reunited at St. Margaret's Church in Westminster, London, in 1993 for the marriage of their first-born child to Serena Stanhope.

July 14, 1994: Lady Sarah Chatto marries Daniel Chatto

Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret after the wedding ceremony
Mathieu Polak/Sygma/Sygma via Getty

The following year, the exes were photographed together once more at St. Stephen's Walbrook in London, this time for the wedding of their daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto, to Daniel Chatto.

February 9, 2002: Princess Margaret dies

The Countess of Snowdon died of a stroke in 2002 at the age of 71. An official announcement by Buckingham Palace confirmed the news. "The Queen, with great sadness, has asked for the following announcement to be made immediately," the statement read. "Her beloved sister, Princess Margaret, died peacefully in her sleep this morning at 6:30 am, in The King Edward VII Hospital."

February 15, 2002: Antony Armstrong-Jones attends Princess Margaret's funeral

A private service was held for the Countess of Snowdon, which was attended by her mother, (then 101 years old and one month ahead of her own death), as well as her sister, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, her two children and her ex-husband, the Earl of Snowdon.

15 years later, Armstrong-Jones died at 86 years old.

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