Sunday, Dec. 22, 2002

Princess Margaret

A Royal Lightning Rod
The younger sister of Elizabeth II, Margaret chafed at the bounds of Windsor decorum but had her fun at the margins all the same. Her 1950s romance with Royal Air Force Group Captain Peter Townsend was cut off by family order because he was divorced. She rebounded smartly, collecting a circle of posh friends — including Peter Sellers, with whom she spent long evenings around the piano with a cigarette holder and cocktail shaker — and making a second home on the Caribbean island of Mustique. A 1960 marriage to photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, later Lord Snowdon, ended in divorce in 1978. But before it did, she carried on a five-year caprice with landscape gardener Roddy Llewellyn, who was 17 years younger. The British press was inflamed. Some years later, Princess Diana picked up the torch.