18 November 2019 14:34
Though he would go on to become a renowned photographer whose pictures were seen by millions all over the world, it wasn't his art that made Antony Armstrong-Jones famous. That honor, instead, goes to his first wife, Princess Margaret, who in marrying Armstrong-Jones became the first British royal to marry a non-aristocrat in 400 years. Between their headline-grabbing marriage, shocking divorce, and the salacious rumors that continued to swirl around his relationships for the rest of Armstrong-Jones's life, he continues to be one of the most controversial royal figures of the modern age. Who was Antony Armstrong-Jones? Born Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones on March 7, 1930 in London, Armstrong-Jones, best known to friends and family as Tony, was the son of Welsh barrister Ronald Armstrong-Jones and Anne Messel.
When he was very young, his parents divorced, and Tony and his older sister Susan went with their mother, who married Lawrence Parsons, Sixth Earl of Rosse, when Tony was five. In Armstrong-Jones's obituary, The Guardian described it as "a loveless and emotionally starved childhood," in which Tony "treated as distinctly inferior," to his mother's two sons with the earl. Photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones became world-famous for marrying Queen Elizabeth's sister Princess Margaret. Tony later attended Eton College, followed by Cambridge, but he flunked out of his exams in his second year and decided to devote himself to his longtime interest in photography instead. Before his marriage to Princess Margaret, Armstrong-Jones was a successful photographer in his own right.
Keystone-France Getty Images Princess Margaret first met Antony Armstrong-Jones at a dinner party in 1958, but it was far from love at first site. It took several months for romance to blossom, after Tony was commissioned to photograph Margaret, but even then things were kept very hush-hush. Though they began dating in 1958, Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret were quiet about their relationship in the beginning. Hulton Deutsch Getty Images Tony proposed to Margaret in February of 1960; by that May their royal wedding at Westminster Abbey became the first royal wedding to be televised. Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret had two children together during their 18 year marriage. Tony was created the Earl of Snowdon after Margaret became pregnant with their first child, David, in 1961. Speculation abounded that Tony was having flings with other women while away on assignment for The Sunday Times, while Margaret had her own dalliances with the liked of Anthony Barton, a college friend of Tony's, and Roddy Llewellyn, a landscape gardener 18 years her junior. In 1969, Snowdon embarked on a protracted extramarital affair with Lady Jacqueline Rufus-Isaacs, but he and Margaret remained together until the marriage finally buckled under the strain in 1976. They separated, and in 1978 officially announced their divorce—making Margaret the first royal to divorce since King Henry VIII. Armstrong-Jones married his second wife Lucy Lindsay-Hogg the year his divorce was finalized from Princess Margaret. Evening Standard Getty Images The same year he divorced Princess Margaret, Tony married Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, a film production assistant. "I enjoyed his company very much, but I didn't take a lot of notice of him because I thought he was queer," Princess Margaret told her biographer Christopher Warwick in her later years. In her biography, de Courcy quoted a close friend of Armstrong-Jones's referring to his preferences by saying, "If it moves, he'll have it." She also noted that "most of the girls" who worked with him at his studio thought that, "there seemed little doubt that Tony was gay." Rumors throughout the years have suggested that Armstrong-Jones may have been bisexual, though he never confirmed those claims. Bettmann Getty Images Perhaps the most persistent rumors about his sexuality came from his close relationship with then-husband and wife Jeremy and Camilla Fry. Depicted as a three-way relationship in The Crown's second season, Tony stayed with the couple frequently and clearly maintained some form of sexual relationship with Camilla at least—she gave birth to a daughter, Polly Fry, just weeks after Tony's marriage to Princess Margaret; Polly confirmed via DNA test in 2004 that Armstrong-Jones was in fact her biological father. Jeremy Fry was originally supposed to serve as best man at Tony's royal wedding, but pulled out at the last minute, supposedly due to an illness though there are reports that it was actually because the press had discovered that he had a 1952 arrest for "a minor homosexual offense." Armstrong-Jones was not implicated in that incident, but nonetheless, whispers about a potential liaison between the two persisted. Interior designer Nicky Haslam at one point claimed the he too had also had a romantic relationship with with Tony shortly before his wedding to Princess Margaret, but Armstrong-Jones denied that claim. For his part, Tony's only response on the issue of his sexuality when asked by de Courcy was to say that, "I didn't fall in love with boys–but a few men have been in love with me." In his later years, Armstrong-Jones continued his work as a photographer as well as becoming a disabilities advocate. Dave Benett Getty Images Despite the unhappiness of their marriage, Tony and Margaret remained friends throughout their lives, and he continued to spend time with the royal family, including taking many official royal photos, like the first photograph of baby Prince Harry in 1984. He set up the Earl of Snowdon Award Scheme, using money he had made from photographs of the royal family to create funding for disabled students and helped design aids for the blind, hard-of-hearing, and those in wheelchairs. Things came especially to a head when, according to the New York Times, an early-twenties Princess Margaret fell in love with a man nearly twice her age, Group Captain Peter Townsend of the Royal Air Force. Townsend and Princess Margaret met when he served as an equerry, or assistant, to her father, King George VI. Townsend was recently divorced, and, as viewers saw in The Crown, the pain of Edward VIII's abdication (and marriage to a divorcée, Wallis Simpson) was too raw for the royals to even consider agreeing to let Princess Margaret, then third in line to the throne, marry him. Additionally, the Church Of England looked down on divorce, and Queen Elizabeth, though the head of the church, couldn't make an exception for her sister, or so The Crown said. The BBC aired its ambitious adaptation of The War of the Worlds last night (Sunday, November 17). The central divorce storyline In the original books, the narrator isn't actually given a name but in the show, he's called George (played by Rafe Spall). Also, many of the characters in the original source text have any names but in the programme, some of them do including the Narrator's wife who is called Lucy (Aisling Jarrett-Gavin) and Amy (Eleanor Tomlinson). On top of this, there's the central divorce storyline with George and Lucy's marriage falling apart. READ MORE: The War of the Worlds 2019 location: Where was it filmed? War of the Worlds harks back to the book by HG Wells War of the Worlds: Eleanor Tomlinson as Amy READ MORE The War Of The Worlds on BBC slammed after launch George moves on with his new lover Amy, however, both of them become social pariahs in a repressed Victorian society. In the book, this doesn't happen with the Narrator and his wife simply fleeing from danger when the aliens come. He said the book felt more like reportage or a piece of journalism, whereas he wanted to create a drama. War of the Worlds: Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall star War of the Worlds: There are some key departures from the book The aliens One of the big changes in the show sees the aliens land in a different ship to the book. Another difference regarding the aliens in the show didn't get revealed like they did in the book. The War of the Worlds book sees the extraterrestrials coming out of their crafts before getting into their tripods and going on killing spree.