Photographer Lord Snowdon, Former Husband of Princess Margaret, Dies At 86

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The renowned photographer and former husband of Princess Margaret has died at 86.

Lord Snowdon, born Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, January 13, according to the BBC. Lord Snowdon was 86.

He lived the high-profile life of a celebrity photographer, as his body of work featured both the world’s biggest stars and members of the British elite. It’s been said that he felt his crowning achievement was the beautiful aviary he helped design in 1964 for the London Zoo.

Educated at Eton, Snowdon cast aside his initial interest in studying architecture in favour of photography, starting up his own studio in his hometown of London. He made a name for himself—and built a reputation as someone who doesn’t believe in developing a working relationship with his subject.

“I don’t want people to feel at ease,” he once told reporters. “You want a bit of an edge.”

It was after he was invited to Buckingham Palace to photograph members of the Royal Family that he met Princess Margaret.


British Royalty, London, England, 6th May 1960, H,R,H, Princess Margaret with her Anthony Armstrong-Jones wave to the crowd from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after they had been married in Westminster Abbey (Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Their wedding took place on May 6, 1960, and the couple moved into Kensington Palace. Margaret, who’d already made international headlines for her controversial romance with the much-older (and, not to mention, divorced) Royal Air Force officer Peter Townsend, was used to scandal. And, at the time of Snowdon’s marriage to Margaret, it was still highly uncommon for someone so close to the throne to marry outside the ranks of royalty. The following year, 1961, he was raised to Lord Snowdon and took his seat in the House of Lords. The couple had two children: David, Viscount Linley, born in 1961, and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, born in 1964.

In 1975, he tried his hand at directing, making two programs as part of the BBC’s Explorers series. He later designed an electrically powered wheelchair which he called the Chairmobile. As he told the New York Times, “It’s just the simplest possible solution to some problems that confront the disabled every day.” It was during a debate about mobility and physical disabilities that he made his first speech in House of Lords in 1974.

Although the couple separated in 1976, his divorce from Margaret wasn’t finalized until 1978. Snowdon rarely spoke publicly about his relationship with Margaret; however, he continued to visit his children regularly and photographed the Royal Family on numerous occasions.

By the late-1970s, Snowdon was considered one of Britain’s most respected and celebrated photographers. His portfolio included fashion, inner city life and world notables, many of which were published in Vanity Fair and Vogue.

In 1985, he was awarded the Progress Medal—the highest honour bestowed by the Royal Photographic Society. And, in 2000, he was given a retrospective exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. Photographs by Snowdon: A Retrospective featured more than 180 of his photos.

Snowdon is survived by his five children, from his previous marriages to Princess Margaret and, later, Lucy Lindsay-Hogg.