by Scott Mehl
Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon
Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, was the husband of Princess Margaret from 1960-1978. A gifted artist and photographer, he remained close to the British Royal Family even after his divorce from Princess Margaret.
He was born on March 7, 1930, to Ronald Armstrong-Jones and his first wife Anne Messel. He had an older sister Susan, later Viscountess Vesci, and three half-siblings from his parents’ other marriages. He was educated at Sandroyd School, in Wiltshire, and Eton College, and then enrolled at Jesus College, Cambridge University where he studied architecture. Following university, Armstrong-Jones began working as a photographer, later becoming known for his portraits, including several of members of the royal family. Snowdon thrived in the art world, and in 1969, was called upon to design the investiture ceremony for the Prince of Wales, at Caernarfon Castle.
In February 1960, it was announced that Armstrong-Jones had become engaged to Princess Margaret, younger daughter of the late King George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The couple married in Westminster Abbey on May 6, 1960. On October 6, 1961, he was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley, just before the birth of their first child.
Antony and Margaret had two children:
- David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon (born 1961), married The Honorable Serena Stanhope, daughter of Charles, Stanhope, 12th Earl of Harrington), had one son and one daughter, separated 2019, intend to divorce
- Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones Chatto (born 1964), married Daniel Chatto, had two sons
- Samuel David Benedict Chatto (born 1996)
- Arthur Robert Nathaniel Chatto (1999)
The marriage, while happy at the beginning, quickly turned sour. Both were rumored to have had affairs, and often battled publicly. After many years of discord, the couple divorced in 1978.
A month later, on December 15, 1978, Snowdon married Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg (née Davies). and they had one daughter. This marriage, too, would end in 2000, after it was revealed that Snowdon had fathered a son in 1998 with another woman.
- Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones (born 1979), married Rodolphe von Hofmannsthal, had two sons and one daughter
On November 16, 1999, he was created Baron Armstrong-Jones of Nymans, a life-peerage, in order to retain his seat in the House of Lords. Despite no longer being married into the Royal Family, Snowdon had a close relationship with them. At Princess Margaret’s funeral in 2002, he was amongst the leading mourners, alongside the couple’s children, The Queen, and The Queen Mother.
On January 13, 2017, Lord Snowdon died peacefully at his home in Kensington, London, England at the age of 86 and was buried at St. Baglan’s Church in Llanfaglan, Wales. His son David succeeded him as 2nd Earl of Snowdon. His former sister-in-law Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh along with their sons the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex and their grandson the Duke of Cambridge attended the memorial service for Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon on April 7, 2017, at the Church of St Margaret in Westminster, London, England on the grounds of Westminster Abbey.