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.
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.
The Queen’s Role
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.
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.
Princess Margaret, the Party Girl
After Wallace, Margaret indulged in numerous excesses to seemingly numb her heartache. She drank and smoked frequently. She partied into the wee hours with many suitors, all in the eye of the public. Her reputation as a wild child grew, ceaselessly irking the royal family.
Princess Margaret was also famous for being extravagant. She was always a “spoiled child,” people said. And her habits only grew worse – from luxurious baths to vodka breakfasts.