The Queen did not sabotage Princess Margaret’s relationship, contrary to myth. In reality, she worked with then-PM Anthony Eden to try and make the marriage possible without her sister giving up her title or allowance. But there was still a caveat.
Margaret would have to forgo her place and her future children’s place in the royal line of succession. Ultimately, Princess Margaret decided not to marry the love of her life.
Will They? Won't They?
The relationship put Queen Elizabeth in a tricky situation. As the head of the Church of England, it was her duty to disallow the marriage. But she was also the elder sister who wanted to keep Princess Margaret happy. Elizabeth attempted to work around conventions to make the marriage possible.
Tension around the relationship created a rift between the public (largely pro-Margaret) and the royal family. During this period, Townsend served several assignments overseas where he waited until Princess Margaret turned 25 and they could marry.
They Could Marry, but on Certain Conditions
In 1955, Princess Margaret turned 25, finally free to marry Townsend without needing the Queen’s approval. The two reunited in England, hoping to put the drama to rest, but this was not to be.
Purists and sticklers for tradition in Parliament wanted Princess Margaret to give up her royal title and allowance. That was not all. In exchange for her unconventional marriage, she would also need to leave England for at least five years.
Princess Margaret’s Real Reasons for Refusing to Marry
In a statement, Princess Margaret stated that she had decided against the marriage since she was “mindful” of Church doctrines and her duty to the Commonwealth. Parliament seemed happy, but the public was disappointed by the tragic end of a royal love story — one for the ages.
The blame fell squarely on archaic laws, the Queen, the Church, and Parliament for allegedly coercing the princess. But those in the inner circle had a different story. They knew Princess Margaret chose not to marry Townsend since she did not want to live the life of a commoner.
Princess Margaret and Billy Wallace
The relationship falling apart deeply affected Princess Margaret. Combined with the pressure to find a worthy husband, she threw herself into new romances with a vengeance. As with everything Margaret did, things moved quickly. She decided to get engaged to a family friend, Billy Wallace, who everyone believed was a good match for the princess.
During this time, Wallace, confident about his position, was involved with someone else while holidaying in the Bahamas. He was audacious enough to tell Princess Margaret about it without any remorse. She immediately broke off the engagement, much to his surprise.