She wasn’t demure and she certainly wasn’t traditional. Princess Margaret was quite the rebel and probably ahead of her time. When she married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, her wedding dress defied tradition. Sophisticated and timeless, the gown with its tailored lines has been described as “a study in simplicity“.
No intricate beadwork, no lace, no obvious glitter, no ruffles and no frills. It seems to say, “Hey, I’m no blushing bride; I’m a woman who’s confident in my skin.” Tatler has described Margaret as “more fun than Harry, more beautiful than Kate, more glamorous than Diana.”
In The Crown, as it was in real life, Margaret’s decision to marry photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones seems to have been triggered by a letter from Group Captain Peter Townsend that he intended to marry another woman. Townsend was Margaret’s first and probably greatest love but they couldn’t marry because he was a divorced man and the Church of England didn’t allow marriages between royals and divorcees if the former spouse was still living. It was for the same reason that Margaret’s uncle gave up the throne to marry the woman he loved.
So, Margaret decided to marry Armstrong-Jones and the dress she wore to the wedding really was quite stunning. And just how does the reproduction of Princess Margaret’s wedding dress in The Crown compare with the original? Very well, I think.
A Norman Hartnell design
Princess Margaret’s wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell who also did Elizabeth’s wedding gown thirteen years earlier as well as Elizabeth’s coronation gown seven years earlier.
Margaret’s wedding dress is now part of the Royal Collection. Above and below, the dress on exhibit. Also on display, as part of the ensemble, the Poltimore tiara—or, at least a reproduction of the famous tiara that the princess wore to her wedding.
The Poltimore tiara
Designed as a graduated line of cushion-shaped and old-cut diamond clusters alternating with diamond-set scroll motifs, each surmounted by old-cut diamond terminals, to the collet-set diamond line, mounted in silver and gold, circa 1870, 19.2 cm. maximum diameter, convertible to a necklace and eleven brooches, with screwdriver and brooch fittings…
Yes, the tiara can be dismantled into a necklace and brooches and yes, the tiara was auctioned—more than once. Princess Margaret first acquired the Poltimore tiara via auction and, after her death, her family lost it via auction as well. The details…
In 1959, a year before Margaret’s wedding to Armstrong-Jones, Lady Poltimore’s grandson put up the tiara for auction. Some claim that it was Princess Margaret herself who bought it although there is also speculation that it was bought by either the Queen Mother or Queen Elizabeth and given to Margaret as a wedding gift. The price at which the tiara was bought at auction is not disputed. A mere £5,500.
After the death of Princess Margaret in 2002, the inheritance tax was in the vicinity of £3 million. Her children sold some of their mother’s jewelry. Its value was estimated between $275,000 and $370,000 but it was finally sold for $1.7 million to a private buyer. Where it is now and who currently owns it are unknown.