Princess Margaret's affair on The Crown led to the first royal divorce in 400 years
In Episode Ten of The Crown Season Three, “Cri de Coeur,” the explosive marriage between Princess Margaret (played by Helena Bonham Carter) and Lord Snowdon (Ben Daniels) finally collapses in on itself. Both Snowdon and Margaret are having affairs, and after paparazzi photos of Margaret and her young lover Roddy Llewellyn (Harry Treadaway) leak to the press, proceedings for the first royal divorce since King Henry VIII's in 1540 begin. And in costume drama fashion, The Crown accurately depicts the massive scandal that was this royal affair, but there's much more to the story.
Roderic Llewellyn was born in Wales, and really did hold a slew of odd jobs alongside his primary passion for gardening. He was 25 when he met Princess Margaret, who was 43 at the time. Though The Crown shows the two meeting at a sexy pool party, Margaret and Roddy actually met at a luncheon in Edinburgh in September of 1973. Nor was their affair a short-lived fling like the episode implies—Margaret and Roddy dated for eight years.
While preparing for her role, Helena Bonham Carter had tea with Llewellyn, now 72 years old. She told the Sunday Times that “He was so fun and warm—that’s what [Margaret] needed.” Bonham Carter said that Margaret and Roddy “found each other just at the right time. 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.”
How did Margaret and Lord Snowdon's marriage end?
Margaret and Snowdon really were given the Caribbean island of Mustique as a wedding gift, as it's shown in The Crown, and that is indeed where the paparazzi photos of Margaret and Roddy that would eventually dissolve her marriage were taken. However, the photos that splashed across tabloid pages were taken in 1976, three years after Margaret and Roddy’s relationship began—it certainly wasn’t Roddy’s first visit to Mustique, as it's implied on the Netflix show. The photos show Roddy sunbathing next to the Princess wearing Union Jack trunks just like the ones she picks out for him in Episode Ten.
Margaret and Lord Snowdon's separation was announced a month after the scandalous photos leaked, and the divorce was finalized in 1978. Later that year he married Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, who we also meet in Episode Ten.
Who is Lucy Lindsay Hogg?
Lucy Lindsay-Hogg was Lord Snowdon's girlfriend throughout the last several years of his marriage to Margaret, like we see portrayed in The Crown. She had previously been married to British film director Michael Lindsay-Hogg and had been an associate producer of a few his films. She met Snowdon at a dinner party in 1972 and he hired her as his assistant, but the relationship quickly turned romantic. He had been married to Princess Margaret for 12 years at this point, and Margaret was deeply hurt by the affair, constantly referring to Lucy Lindsay-Hogg as “the thing,” as she does in Episode Ten.
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Did Margaret really overdose?
Margaret did become emotionally fraught and overdose on Mogadon tablets, but it was at an earlier point in her relationship with Roddy, before the photos of them on Mustique leaked. Her distress was brought on by Roddy up and bolting like Episode Ten shows—overwhelmed by the pressures of the extramarital relationship, he impulsively traveled to Turkey and South America for a few months. But unlike The Crown depicts, their relationship resumed after he returned. The Telegraph notes that “friends have always denied that it was an attempt at suicide,” and Margaret herself would later explain: “I was so exhausted because of everything that all I wanted to do was sleep...and I did, right through to the following afternoon."
How did Roddy and Margaret’s relationship end?
Margaret and Roddy stayed together for three years after her divorce. They broke up in 1981, and that same year Roddy married Tatiana Soskin, a fashion designer whom he had known for many years. Princess Margaret reacted gracefully, attending the younger couple’s wedding and remaining friends with both.