On 6 May 1960, HRH Princess Margaret married Anthony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey. It made history as the first royal wedding to be televised with an estimated 300m viewers tuning in from around the world. It also saw the first commoner marry into the royal family for 400 years!
The princess travelled in the Glass Coach from Clarence House to Westminster Abbey with her brother-in-law Prince Phillip who gave her away as her father George VI had died in 1952.
The congregation was 2,000 strong and included royalty, politicians and film stars. There were 8 bridesmaids, including Princess Margaret’s niece, Princess Anne. The 8 bridesmaids follows a royal tradition started by Queen Victoria back in the 19th century.
After the service, the royal party travelled in a carriage procession back to Buckingham Palace.
The princess and her new husband were joined by other members of the royal family on the balcony to greet the crowds of well-wishers
below. The balcony event was another tradition started by Queen Victoria.
According to the BBC, the wedding breakfast consisted of fillet of beef, green beans and ‘soufflee surprise Montmorency’.
Princess Margaret’s wedding dress was silk organza designed by Normal Hartnell. Despite embellishments kept to a minimum to suit
HRH’s petite frame, over 30m of fabric was needed for the full skirt. The tiara worn was the Poltimore made for Lady Poltimore in the
1870’s by Garrards. There was a dramatic cathedral length veil and a wedding bouquet of orchids and lily-of-the-valley.
Princess Margaret’s wedding dress is now part of a display of royal dresses at Kensington Palace in London.
The couple honeymooned aboard the Royal Yacht Brittania with 6 weeks in the Caribbean. On their return, they moved into Kensington
Palace and in 1961, Anthony Armstrong-Jones was created the Earl of Snowdon. The couple have two children, David and Sarah.
Princess Margaret suffered from ill health during the final 5 years of her life and she died of a stroke on 9 February 2002 and is buried with her parents in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Lord Snowdon died of natural causes on 13 January 2017.
Debbie Keenan is a Blue Badge Guide working in Southern England and specialising in tours of Windsor.