Lord Snowdon

Lord Snowdon Biography.com

Royalty, Filmmaker, Photographer(1930–)
Lord Snowdon was married to Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II, from 1960 to 1978. He is also a world-renowned photographer and documentarian.


Lord Snowdon was born as Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones on March 7, 1930 in London. In 1960, he married Prince Margaret. During the 1960s, he worked as the picture editor of The Sunday Times magazine. The couple divorced in 1978; Snowdon remarried that same year, divorcing again in 2000. In 2001, his photography was featured in a career retrospective. In 2008, writer Anne de Courcy published his controversial biography.

Early Life

Lord Snowdon, born as Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones on March 7, 1930 in London, England, was the only son of his father, a Welsh barrister named Ronald Owen Lloyd Armstrong-Jones. His mother was a wealthy socialite named Anne Messel. Lord Snowdon's parents separated when he was still a toddler. His mother remarried to Lawrence Michael Harvey Parsons, Sixth Earl of Rosse, when Lord Snowdon was 5 years old. She subsequently became the Countess of Rosse.

Lord Snowdon contracted polio at age 16. During his recuperation, his mother gave him a camera to help him pass the time. Six months later, he emerged from his recovery with a shortened and withered leg. His ongoing struggle to adapt to his stigmatized condition would later inspire his inexhaustible dedication to organizations that advocate for the disabled. His introduction to photography would also inform his future.

Photography and Filmmaking

Creativity ran in Lord Snowdon's family, and he was no exception. His great-grandfather was famed Punch magazine cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, and two of his uncles were noted architects. In his early twenties, Lord Snowdon failed his exams at Cambridge University and left school to become a photographer.

At first, Lord Snowdon's photography focused almost exclusively on design, fashion and theater. Soon, Lord Snowdon managed to establish himself as a successful portraitist through his photos of British royals, including Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1957. In the 1960s, Lord Snowdon landed a job as the picture editor of The Sunday Times magazine. By the 1970s, his work had placed him among England's most well-respected photographers.


In 1958, during Lord Snowdon's early photographic career, he met Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Princess Margaret. The two were married in 1960. Lord Snowdon was the first commoner in four and a half centuries to marry a king's daughter. The following year, he was granted the title "First Earl of Snowdon."

Accustomed to working behind the camera, with his increased visibility in the public eye, Lord Snowdon became one of the world's most frequently photographed photographers. Despite his increased responsibility to official appointments, he managed to remain active in the arts by organizing government-funded art projects. He also continued to work regularly on his own photography, which he eventually extended into documentary filmmaking.

Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret had two children together, David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley (born 1961) and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (born 1964). Facing rumors that Princess Margaret was having an extramarital affair with Roddy Llewellyn, the couple divorced in 1978. It was the first time since 1901 that a member of senior royalty had divorced.

Lord Snowdon remarried film production assistant Lucy Mary Davies at the end of that same year. The marriage yielded a daughter, Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones, but ended in divorce in 2000, this time amid allegations that Lord Snowdon was having an affair. Lord Snowdon's first wife, Princess Margaret, died two years later.

Recent Years

In the late 1990s, Lord Snowdon was awarded life peerage, affording him the title of baron and securing his seat in the House of Lords following the exclusion of hereditary peers.

In 2001, Lord Snowdon's photography was featured in a career retrospective held at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2007, his work was exhibited in a show called "In Camera: Snowdon at the Pallant House Gallery," in Chichester, England.

After Snowdon spent four years collaborating with writer Anne de Courcy, his biography was released in 2008, confirming speculation that Snowdon had fathered an illegitimate daughter just prior to marrying Princess Margaret.

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