PRINCESS MARGARET: A Life Unfulfilled by Nigel Dempster


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After Peter and Tony and Roddy, will Princess Margaret find ""someone to look after her?"" Dempster is gossip columnist for the London Daily Mail, and this is no better than it should be: discreetly nasty and flagrantly snobbish. The one subject is Margaret's amours; the content is mostly who's-who--among the ""Margaret Set"" in the Cafe Society Fifties, the international ""trendies"" in the Swinging Sixties, the hipsters in the Permissive, Penny-Ante Seventies. And the story is in fact increasingly squalid. Peter Townsend, not she, decided against a Wallis-David marriage. Between Margaret and Tony Armstrong-Jones it was ""sex, sex, sex."" After he strayed, he encouraged her dalliances--until he blew up over Roddy Llewelyn. And that will-o'-the-wisp, if this is to be believed, lost his virginity (at 22) to Tony's #1 paramour. . . before being procured, a few years later, to squire Margaret at a Scottish house-party. (""What had seemed beyond the bounds of imagining twenty-four hours earlier had now happened to him. Destiny seemed to guide his footsteps as Margaret bade everyone good night and Roddy followed her from the room."") His scrapes, if anything, intensify her loyalty. He has ""a problem with sex""; she, ""who had once set so much store by the physical act,"" lives with him in contented celibacy. Periodically--providentially, for Dempster's purposes--the ""controversial Civil List allowance"" comes up: is her wastrel life a waste of the people's money? They are hounded by the media; exploited by publicity-hounds. The druggie son of an old and dear friend (also, apparently, the author's chief confidant) sells photos of her to pay off his pusher. Roddy's brother tells the whole story--for £30,000--to the News of the World. (""All he offered me is a sun-lamp,"" Roddy complains to a friend.) But at the end she relinquishes him without rancor and offers to attend his wedding. Mawkish, leering--and sad.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1982
Publisher: Macmillan