Lady Anne Glenconner is hoping to finally set the record straight about her beloved friend.The 87-year-old recently released a memoir titled “Lady
Lady Anne Glenconner is hoping to finally set the record straight about her beloved friend.
The 87-year-old recently released a memoir titled “Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown,” which details her aristocratic upbringing, as well as her close relationship with Princess Margaret, whom she served for 30 years. Glenconner was also one of Queen Elizabeth II’s attendants at her 1953 Coronation.
The reigning monarch’s younger sister passed away in 2002 at age 71 following a stroke.
Glenconner spoke to Fox News about how she became a lady-in-waiting for Margaret, her favorite memories of the royal, what the princess’ final years were really like, and whether there was any jealousy concerning Elizabeth, 94.
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Fox News: How did you become a lady-in-waiting for Princess Margaret?
Anne Glenconner: Princess Margaret picked her friends to be a lady-in-waiting. And all of us were friends of Margaret for quite some time now. My family has always been a part of the royal household. My mother was lady-in-waiting to the queen. My father worked for the Duke of York before he became king. Growing up, I used to play with Princess Margaret. In the summers, we would bathe in the sea. So we’ve always known each other.
Margaret chose people she could confide in to be part of her circle. We would help Margaret with anything she needed. And Margaret supported many charities, so there was always something to do… But it wasn’t always work. We would connect, laugh and talk. Being a lady-in-waiting is being between a friend and duty really. But I was always very fond of her. She could be naughty, but she was always great fun. But more importantly, she was a wonderful friend for me in lots of ways.
Even when she was in my home visiting, she was just a friend. She would help me clean my car, help me with my garden…There was a lot of laughter. In some ways, I feel like her spirit is still with me in the house.
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Fox News: Was there any jealousy between Princess Margaret and her sister Elizabeth, who later became queen?
Glenconner: No, the queen was nearly five years older. And these women were heading on different paths in life. If Princess Margaret was perhaps a little younger, there might have been some jealousy, but there really wasn’t. Princess Margaret adored the queen and was very supportive of her.
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I think the only thing Princess Margaret would have wanted was to be educated better. The queen had people from Oxford and Cambridge come and teach her. Princess Margaret didn’t have that. She had a French governess and was taught piano. She was very intelligent and she valued education. So I think that’s the only thing she used to talk about – how she would have liked to have been as well-educated as the queen. But otherwise, there was no jealously at all.
Fox News: How did Princess Margaret feel about her royal status over the years?
Glenconner: She was used to it. It’s a life she was born into. She wanted to do her very best, which she did. It’s not fun to have all eyes on you and have the world watch your every move. But she didn’t complain about the life she was given.
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I never found her to be difficult. She simply wanted to do her work as smoothly as possible. There have been rumors about how difficult she was – rumors that I wanted to put to rest. Because she really was a wonderful friend. The press also depicted her as this party girl. I mean, she liked parties. She loved dancing, singing and music. But there was also a much more serious side to her that the press didn’t write about. Perhaps that story wasn’t as interesting. But I got fed up with those narratives because they didn’t really know my friend.
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I remember we used to visit a little place in London for young men who had AIDS. Their partners had passed away and their families either wanted nothing to do with them or they were just too scared to visit. This was a time of great unknown. I remember we used to go there long before the Princess of Wales did. She wanted to know someone was there for them. And she would make them laugh or tell stories during this time of despair. There were no paparazzi. It was just her. And they loved her for it. She made them forget.
When my son Henry got AIDS in the ‘80s, she couldn’t have been more marvelous. He absolutely adored her – all my children did. I never forgot that. There was really another side to her.
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Fox News: Princess Margaret was recognized as the first in the queen’s immediate family to become a divorcee. What went wrong with her marriage.
Glenconner: It’s difficult to say. What causes a marriage to end exactly? So many things are possible. But I think [Antony] got bored of royal life. He was a brilliant photographer. I think he wanted to go off and do things… I can’t really say, but I’m sure the differences in lifestyles may have had something to do with it. They had a lot in common, but you never really know about marriages, do you?
Fox News: Margaret received a lot of criticism for getting a divorce. How did she cope with that?
Glenconner: Well, the point was that she didn’t want a divorce. She was forced into a divorce because Tony was having a baby with his girlfriend. Princess Margaret never wanted a divorce. She didn’t believe in divorce. But she had no choice. She was really upset by it because she didn’t want to, but at that point, there was nothing she could have done. It’s a shame because somehow, Tony became much more popular in the press than she was. I always thought that was very unfair.
Fox News: What’s one key piece of advice Princess Margaret ever gave you?
Glenconner: I remember we were in an airplane and there was a terrible thunderstorm. There was lighting, strong winds – everything you can imagine. I was incredibly nervous. She put her hand on my hands and said, “Either we are not going to be alright or we will, but there’s nothing we can do about it. So let’s have another drink.”
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She was very practical. She never complained about things. She never thought there was any sense in worrying about things. Her advice was always, “Do the best that you can. But if it doesn’t work out the way you think, don’t complain. Just get on with it.” I believe that’s how she lived her life. There was no sense in worrying over the things you can’t control.
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Fox News: How would you describe Princess Margaret’s final years?
Glenconner: When she started to become ill, I think she wanted to be surrounded by her [female] friends. We would read to her and chat… And she never complained. I always thought she was brave. But I’ve got the happiest memories of her just singing, dancing, putting on plays, dressing up and spending time with the family. I miss her, I really do. I think about what she would tell me if she were here right now and I can hear her say, “Come on out and get on with it.”