In the final episode of The Crown's third season, the story turns its attention to Princess Margaret, whose marriage to Lord Snowdon is falling apart. While on a trip to her friend Lady Anne Glenconner's Scottish estate, she meets Roddy Llewellyn, a gardener 17 years her junior, during a pool party, and they begin a flirtation that leads to a serious relationship.
But according to Glenconner's new memoir Lady in Waiting, in real life, things happened a little differently than they did on-screen.
During the summer of 1973, Princess Margaret was indeed heading to the Glen, the Glenconners' home in southern Scotland. During her visit, there were plans for a large dinner party, but per Glenconner, a friend had to cancel last-minute, leaving the guest list one short.
A quick phone call was placed to a relative well versed in who might be a fit to round out the group, and Llewellyn received a invitation to the fête. "Young and available, although we'd never met him, Roddy fitted the bill," Glenconner writes. And so Llewellyn made his way to Edinburgh.
When Princess Margaret heard who was joining them, she "was intrigued because she knew Roddy's father," an Olympic medalist in equestrian sports. So, writes Anne, Margaret accompanied Glenconner's husband Colin to pick Lewllyn up at the train station. The attraction, it seems, was instant.
By the time they arrived at the Tennant home, sparks were flying. "When the car pulled up, there were Princess Margaret and Roddy in the back, more or less holding hands. Colin explained that they had met him off the train and gone for lunch at a bistro in Edinburgh. Princess Margaret and Roddy had immediately clicked, even though Roddy was seventeen years younger than her," writes Glenconner.
But while their introduction wasn't exactly the poolside meet cute shown in The Crown, that scene where they shop for swim trunks together is straight out of history: "Charlie then explained, with a twinkle in his eye, that they had taken so long because Princess Margaret had whisked Roddy off shopping to find him some swimming trunks for the pool. With a big grin on his face, Charlie said that the trunks were so tight they could have been described as 'budgie smugglers.'"
"I said to Colin, 'Oh, gosh, what have we done?" writes Glenconnor.
But it was too late, the pair were already smitten.
"It soon became clear that they had, quite simply, fallen in love," writes Glenconner. "Roddy bore a striking resemblance physically to Tony, but unlike Tony, he was very kind."
In the end Margaret and Roddy dated for roughly eight years, and as Gleconner puts it became "friends for life." Despite the unwelcome incessant press coverage of the relationship, even the Queen recognized that Roddy was good for Margaret. In the documentary Elizabeth: Our Queen, Glenconner recounts a conversation she had with the British monarch about Margaret and Roddy.
“After Princess Margaret’s funeral, the Queen, she said, ‘I’d just like to say, Anne, it was rather difficult at moments, but I thank you so much [for] introducing Princess Margaret to Roddy ’cause he made her really happy.’”
The Crown's third season is available to stream in its entirety on Netflix.
Watch a trailer for the season below:
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