Tuesday, December 1, 2020
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Inside Princess Margaret’s gruelling health battles as she faced lung surgery and therapy

Inside Princess Margaret's gruelling health battles as she faced lung surgery and therapy
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The new instalments of Netflix royal drama The Crown sees Princess Margaret face an uphill battle for her health.

In the seventh episode of the fourth season, entitled The Hereditary Principle, Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter) finds her health taking a turn for the worse.

Her persistent drinking and cigarette smoking catches up with her when she begins to cough up blood while dining with her sister, The Queen (Olivia Colman).

Later in the episode, Margaret undergoes lung surgery to have part of the organ removed.

In the same episode, after discussions with her close friend and civil servant Derek ‘Dazzle’ Jennings (Tom Burke), Margaret attends therapy with Penelope Carter (Gemma Jones).

There, Margaret tackles some of her growing melancholia and concerns about her family history.

Helena Bonham Carter reprises her role as Princess Margaret for emotional scenes in The Crown season 4

So, how much of the drama’s fictionalised portrayal of Margaret’s plight is true?

In the 1970s, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon received therapy from psychiatrist Mark Collins of the Priory Clinic for depression, according to The Guardian.

She is said to have suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of her collapsing marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon, which was previously depicted in The Crown’s third run.

Margaret is also reported to have overdosed on sleeping pills during this tumultuous time when lover Roddy Llewellyn walked out on her for a trip abroad.

England, 1960, Princess Margaret is pictured with her fiancee Lord Snowdon at Royal Lodge, Windsor

Princess Margaret and her companion Roddy Llewellyn on their way to Heathrow Airport before departing for a holiday in the Caribbean

According to biographer Christopher Warwick, Margaret said: “I was so exhausted because of everything that all I wanted to do was sleep.”

Reflecting the events in the series, Princess Margaret had part of her lung removed on January 5, 1985.

The operation was a biopsy to test for cancer, but thankfully the results returned to show that this was benign.

The Queen’s sister had been smoking since her teens – reportedly up to 60 per day – and despite the health scare she returned to smoking up to 30 cigarettes a day.

Princess Margaret , here in 1985, was a chain-smoker since her teen years

Princess Margaret eventually ditched smoking in the 1990s but her drinking was said to have continued

Margaret’s family had a long history of health issues as a result of smoking.

In addition to Margaret’s paternal grandmother Queen Mary, the four monarchs that came before her sister – her great-grandfather Edward VII, her grandfather George V, her uncle Edward VIII and her own father George VI – all died from illnesses linked to their cigarette smoking.

The Princess had increased her smoking when she was forced to temporarily give up drinking due to falling ill with hepatitis in 1984.

She was known to favour whisky at home and gin when she stayed in the Caribbean.

Princess Margaret 1990
Princess Margaret, here in 1990, faced increasing health issues with pneumonia, strokes, and burns in the 1990s

It was reported that she eventually did give up smoking in the 1990s as she faced further health issues, however, her drinking continued.

In 1993, the Princess was treated in hospital for pneumonia.

In 1998, by the time she had given up smoking, Margaret was dining with close friends on the Caribbean island of Mustique when she suffered a mild stroke.

She is said to have felt chest pains, a headache, and dizziness.

The Queen and Princess Margaret in 1993

Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth II
British Princess Margaret (R) stands with her sister Queen Elizabeth II outside Clarence House in London 04 August 1999 to help celebrate the Queen Mother’s ninety-ninth birthday.

In early 1999, Margaret suffered severe scalding to her feet in a hot shower that left her with long-term injuries and badly affected her ability to walk, resulting in her needing to use a wheelchair on many occasions.

In late 2000, reports suggested that the Princess was depressed and remaining in her room in Sandringham, Norfolk while staying with the Royals.

It later emerged that this was as a result of her feeling the effects of a stroke.

Princess Margaret was reportedly greatly depressed in her final days

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The Princess returned to hospital in January 2001 when she faced swallowing issues and a loss of appetite, while by March 2001 she had partially lost her vision and faced partial paralysis due to her strokes.

It was here that she was reported to have become deeply depressed and lost the will to live, staying in bed and becoming increasingly isolated and reclusive.

Margaret was last seen in public in both August and December 2001, the first when she appeared at her mother Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s 101st birthday celebrations and then for her aunt Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester’s 100th birthday celebrations.

The King Edward Hospital
The King Edward Hospital, London where Princess Margaret died in 2002

On February 8 2002, Margaret suffered a further stroke which resulted in cardiac issues and she died the following day at King Edward VII’s Hospital, London.

Her funeral was held on the 50th anniversary of her father’s funeral on February 15 a week after her death.

There was said to be 400 mourners at the funeral – including an unwell Queen Mother who died two months later.

Margaret’s ex-husband Lord Snowdon was in attendance, along with her close friend and former lover Roddy Llewellyn.

Viscount Linley leaves St George’s Chapel, in Windsor Castle, followed by Sarah Chatto (left) and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (right), after the funeral of Princess Margaret Friday February 15, 2002

The Crown season 4 on Netflix

The Princess’ grieving children Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto and their partners attended the ceremony too, along with The Queen and her family.

She was cremated in private at Slough Crematorium with none of her family in attendance, as she had wished.

Princess Margaret’s ashes were placed in the tomb of her beloved father King George VI and they were joined by the remains of her mother just seven weeks later.

The Crown season 4 is available now on Netflix.

What did you think of Princess Margaret’s storyline in The Crown season 4? Let us know in the comments below.





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