Sundays, February 10 and 17 at 10 PM ET on PBS
(Check your local listing)
Margaret: The Rebel Princess is an insightful new two-part biography of Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth’s beautiful and rebellious younger sister. This new special, featuring rare footage and interviews with those who knew her best, offers unparalleled insight into Margaret’s turbulent life and times.
Margaret: The Rebel Princess presents new interviews with several of her closest friends including Lady Anne Glenconner, Lady Jane Rayne and Jane Stevens; biographers Christopher Warwick, Craig Brown and Anne de Courcy; journalists Clive Irving of the Daily Express and Doris Bacon of AP and many others. They reveal Margaret as the first truly modern princess — a superstar who introduced a flash of Hollywood glamour into Buckingham Palace and paved the way for Diana, Kate and Meghan. A woman yearning for escape in a post-war world eager to shrug its own oppressive constraints, Margaret became a powerful and unpredictable force, reflecting and driving fundamental changes in our attitudes about the monarchy, celebrity, marriage and sex.
Sunday, February 10 at 10 PM ET on PBS
In 1930, Margaret Rose Windsor was born, a princess of the largest empire the world had ever seen. Seven years later, following the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, Margaret is suddenly second in line to the throne; her family’s life will never be the same. Britain too is changing, becoming more egalitarian after the Second World War.
While Elizabeth, the future queen, has a very clear — and starring — role in royal life, her sister Margaret’s role is less defined. She dutifully visits schools and opens flower shows, but privately prefers fashion, theater, parties and men. At 16, she is first thrust into scandal when she falls in love with Peter Townsend, a much older married man. Although he divorces, clergy and politicians are vehemently against the relationship while many of the more romantically-minded public support Margaret’s right to marry the man she loves.
Although she never marries Townsend, Margaret soon shocks the establishment again when, in 1960, she marries the handsome, bohemian photographer and “commoner,” Antony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowden), a charming but notorious womanizer. Margaret is happily drawn into his circle of artists, writers and celebrities, a freewheeling, uninhibited group that epitomizes the swinging sixties. The traditional era of Royal aloofness gives way to the age of celebrity and the press drop their deferential attitude to the royal family.
Sunday, February 17 at 10 PM ET on PBS
In the mid-1960s Princess Margaret and her husband are still riding the wave of a cultural and sexual revolution, while battling rumors of trouble in their marriage.
In 1965, the Princess and her husband set off on an official royal tour of the United States and the press is captivated. From California to small town Arizona, the royal couple promotes Britain by day and parties by night. They visit movie sets and experience a glamorous world where Hollywood royalty increasingly competes with the real thing. In Britain, the press begins to question whether the extravagant royal tour is worth the public’s money. In the years that follow, Antony Armstrong-Jones begins to withdraw from royal duties, the couple lead increasingly separate lives, and rumors fly.
By 1978, Margaret and Antony’s marriage is over, making Margaret the first member of the modern British Royal family to divorce. Soon Margaret is spending more and more time on the Caribbean island of Mustique, where a posh set of British aristocrats mingle with rock stars. In an era of celebrity gossip and the telephoto lens, her relationship with a younger man leads to ever more scandal and Margaret's lifestyle becomes the lightning rod for attacks on the monarchy.