Inside Princess Margaret’s gruelling health battles as she faced lung surgery and therapy
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.
Later in the episode, Margaret undergoes lung surgery to have part of the organ removed.
There, Margaret tackles some of her growing melancholia and concerns about her family history.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.