Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon

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Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (Margaret Rose; 21 August 1930 – 9 February 2002) was the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II and the younger daughter of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth.

Margaret spent much of her childhood years in the company of her older sister and parents. Her life changed dramatically in 1936, when her paternal uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the divorced American Wallis Simpson. Margaret's father became King in Edward's place, and her older sister became heiress presumptive with Margaret second in line to the throne. During World War II, the two sisters stayed at Windsor Castle, despite government pressure to evacuate to Canada. During the war years, Margaret was not expected to perform any public or official duties, and instead continued her education. After the war, she fell in love with a divorced older man, Group Captain Peter Townsend, her father's equerry. Her father died at around the same time, and her sister became Queen. Many in the government felt that Townsend was an unsuitable husband for the Queen's sister, and the Church of England refused to countenance the marriage. Under pressure, Margaret chose to abandon her plans, and instead accepted the proposal of the photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, who was created Earl of Snowdon by Elizabeth II. The marriage, despite an auspicious start, soon became unhappy; the couple divorced in 1978.

Margaret was often viewed as a controversial member of the royal family. Her divorce earned her negative publicity, and she was romantically linked with several men. Her health gradually deteriorated for the final two decades of her life; a heavy smoker all her adult life, she had a lung operation in 1985, a bout of pneumonia in 1993, and at least three strokes between 1998 and 2001. Margaret died at King Edward VII Hospital, London, on 9 February 2002. After a private funeral, her body was cremated. Two months later, after the death of her mother, Margaret's ashes were interred beside the bodies of her parents in the George VI Memorial Chapel at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

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