A Roddy great romp: the truth about Margaret’s most ‘scandalous’ romance
As ‘The Crown’ depicts the princess’s affair with Roddy Llewellyn, her biographer offers his insight
The much-anticipated return of the Netflix series The Crown sets a mink-clad Princess Margaret’s first meeting with a young Roddy Llewellyn at a country house swimming pool party. That, in reality, was not how or where they met back in the summer of 1973. But then Roddy’s introduction to his host, Colin Tennant, later Lord Glenconner, and his royal guest over tea in the sedate setting of Edinburgh’s Cafe Royal may not, in visually dramatic terms, have set the required tone for the raciest season of the series yet.
What is certainly true is that the meeting led almost immediately to a loving, if scandalous, relationship between the then 43-year-old princess, whom the republican Scottish MP Willie Hamilton called a “floozy”, and the tousle-haired 26-year-old gardener, who was swiftly cast by the prurient tabloid press as her “toy boy lover” but who became an enduring friend and confidante.
By the time the pair met, Margaret’s marriage to Lord Snowdon was in advanced terminal decline, bringing her to what was very probably the lowest point of her life. Lonely, desperately unhappy, drinking too much, smoking even more than usual, and overweight – “People don’t like me when I’m fat, do they?” she once said to me – Margaret was spending tearful hours on the phone to sympathetic friends. When Roddy, good-looking, charming, caring and above all fun, entered her life, he gave her back everything Snowdon had drained from her: happiness, confidence, self-esteem...