Who Was Lord Snowdon?
Lord Snowdon married Princess Margaret in 1960. 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.
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 five years old. She subsequently became the Countess of Rosse.
Lord Snowdon contracted polio at age 16. During his recuperation, his older sister Susan was the only family member to visit him; however, 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.
In 1958, during Lord Snowdon's early photographic career, he met Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Princess Margaret. The two were married in 1960. (Some of Margaret's friends have speculated she used Lord Snowdon as a rebound after she was forbidden to marry war hero Peter Townsend due to his divorcée status.) Whatever the real story, Lord Snowdon became 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.
Second Marriage to Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg
Lord Snowdon remarried film production assistant Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg 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.
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 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 many affairs throughout his marriages and fathered an illegitimate daughter (Polly Fry of the Fry chocolate dynasty) just prior to marrying Princess Margaret, as well as an illegitimate son (Jasper) during his second marriage with Country Life features editor Melanie Cable-Alexander. What the biography doesn't confirm or deny are the rampant rumors that Lord Snowdon was bisexual and also had affairs with men.
On January 13, 2017 Lord Snowdon died peacefully at his home. He was 86.
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