YESTERDAY’s Daily Mail nonsense about Princess Margaret, rubbish so last century it is surely designed to draw attention from the real villains now appearing on Netflix in The Crown: pernicious politicians, cowardly counts, precious princes, quivering queen-mothers, philandering presidents and the rest.
Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister who died in 2002, was a delightful approachable person. When I met her it was around the time this photograph was taken.
I’ve chosen this image because the story she told me included both her children, David Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto. Princess Margaret was visiting a Haberberdashers Aske school in Bunbury, Cheshire and I was reporting it for the Liverpool Daily Post.
Unless she had been an accomplished diplomat and unpretentiously egalitarian the visit would have been an embarrassment on more than one front. As she arrived a teaching member of staff, lined up to greet her, decided to make public a grudge against her employers. The princess listened, in slight astonishment, to what the disgruntled woman had to say. Without a pause she calmly came up with the perfectly reasonable question, sure to take the sting out of the tale,”Have you talked to anyone about it?”
We moved on into a science lesson with students experimenting with static electricity. Everyone was wired up and over anxious. HRH, working outside her regal brief, included us in a detail from precious moments in her own life. She explained how her own children enjoyed racing up and down the carpets at home to create enough energy to give her a “rather electrifying kiss.”
While we were helping Northern Ballet Theatre move from Manchester to Spring Hall, Halifax, our paths crossed again. HRH came north to lunch in NBT’s new headquarters. This time, with just adults around, there she was, an even more relaxed, sophisticated, person, entertaining fellow guests and dancers.
As far as I can judge, from first hand evidence, no-one was as much fun, nor as supporting to the Arts than the Queen’s baby sister. Here she is with the much loved and missed,NBT principal and director Christopher Gable.