5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
Just in case Netflix’s The Crown hasn’t quenched your thirst for the royals……
Craig Brown is the author of 18 books, and a prolific journalist. He has been writing his parodic diary in Private Eye since 1989. He has been a columnist for, among others, The Guardian, The Times, The Spectator, and The Daily Telegraph. He currently writes for The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday. His latest book is “Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret” about the princess who would never be queen. She lived a glamourous life full of fame and tragedy.
SD: What sparked your interest in Princess Margaret?
CB: Out of all the recent royals, she had an amazing social life. She created a stir everywhere she went. Sometimes it was good, but mostly it was bad. She was definitely someone I wanted to learn more about.
SD: For you, who was the most interesting character that the princess had in her circle of friends?
CB: What I find with the royal family is that their servants always write the most accurate biographies. Her former butler, David John Payne, wrote an extraordinarily biography about her. He both hated and loved her. She also had an interesting relationship with actress Elizabeth Taylor. They were extremely jealous of each other due to Margaret’s alleged affair with Eddie Fisher. Because of an incident with Elizabeth, Margaret wanted revenge on her. She would set booby traps for her. Once at a party she was hosting, Margaret instructed everyone to not talk to Elizabeth because she was late. She only invited her to humiliate her.
SD: How would you describe the bond between Margaret and her sister, Queen Elizabeth?
CB: I would say quite interesting. A friend of mine who sat next to her at a dinner party once asked her, “Do you ever have dreams of your sister?” She told him that she has the same reoccurring nightmare. How she has done something to bring shame on the crown and after she wakes, rings up the Queen to hear her voice and know that everything is ok. She was always very fond of her sister and deferred to her for everything.
SD: For someone who wanted to be seen as equally important as her sister, Princess Margaret seemed to have a difficult personality.
CB: Most definitely! A couple of her friends told me she was always proud to be the sister of a queen and the daughter of a king. When her father become king, she was about 6 and from that point on, her status kind of fell. Her status continuously fell all her life. If she was alive today, she would be 17th in line to the throne. I think she found it kind of humiliating. She hated being pitied by people, so she would go out of her way to be extra rude to those she met.
SD: The readers will be surprised most about?
CB: I know I was pleased to find out that Pablo Picasso had a sexual obsession with the princess. He even designed a wedding dress for her and wedding helmets for her page boys. When she was told of his obsession, she said it was the most disgusting thing she has ever heard.
To purchase Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret, visit www.amazon.com