38 Pictures of Queen Elizabeth II and Her “Beloved Sister” Princess Margaret
At the age of 4, then-Princess Elizabeth became an older sibling. Her sister Princess Margaret was born in August 1930, and the two little girls had an undeniable and unbreakable bond from the start. The princesses were educated together by a governess at their home in London until 1936, when their father, the Duke of York, reluctantly took the throne after his brother Edward’s abdication. Along with their parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother, the young girls moved into Buckingham Palace. . . and their lives basically changed forever.
Many accounts of the girls’ royal upbringing detail their differences in personality. For instance, Elizabeth was always a serious and responsible child, while Margaret was your typical second-born: precocious and playful, with a wild streak and penchant for grabbing attention. If it sounds familiar, it should: just look at the similar traits found in other royal second children like Prince Harry, Zara Tindall, and Princess Charlotte. It’s also well-known that King George would often say of his daughters, “Lilibet is my pride, Margaret my joy.”
As you know, Elizabeth became queen after the unexpected death of King George VI – and though Margaret would go on to live a life of privilege and glamour untethered from the responsibilities of the crown, she was still technically one of her sister’s royal subjects. Margaret and Elizabeth spoke nearly every day (Margaret, who lived at Clarence House, had a direct line to her sister at Buckingham) and would often gossip and laugh on the phone. Their relationship hit a bit of a snag in 1953, when Margaret sought permission from the queen to marry the man she loved, Group Captain Peter Townsend. The fact that Peter was a divorced father who was also 16 years older than Margaret wasn’t exactly suitable for the monarchy (or the church), and if you’ve watched The Crown, you’ll know that Elizabeth’s inability to allow Margaret to marry Peter Townsend caused a short-lived rift in their sisterly bond.
After Margaret’s death in February 2002, Elizabeth announced the news from Buckingham Palace: “The Queen, with great sadness, has asked for the following announcement to be made immediately,” it read. “Her beloved sister, Princess Margaret, died peacefully in her sleep this morning at 6:30 a.m. in the King Edward VII Hospital.” Reinaldo Herrera, friend of Margaret’s, told Vanity Fair that on that day, the queen “lost her most intimate companion.”
A private service for family and friends was held six days later, on the 50th anniversary of Margaret and Elizabeth’s father’s own funeral. Margaret was cremated – a rarity for royals – and her ashes were placed in the tomb with her parents, King George VI, and the Queen Mother (who died just seven weeks after Margaret) at Windsor Castle. Reinaldo Herrera recalled the queen’s emotions on the day of her sister’s service. “Never explaining anything to the world – what she feels, or why she does what she does – is part of her greatness,” he wrote. “But for a few minutes that day, as she stood by the steps of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, watching her sister’s coffin being borne away, her eyes betrayed her.”
We’ve rounded up the best photos of Elizabeth and Margaret’s close bond, from the time Margaret entered the world up to her death in 2002.