Life as 20th century British royalty proves complex in ‘Margaret: The Rebel Princess’

Princess Margaret was Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister and considered the first “modern” princess. But life wasn’t easy.

This two-part biography, airing Sunday, Feb. 10 and Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. on Arizona PBS, shows how Princess Margaret’s life and loves reflected the social and sexual revolution that transformed the western world during the 20th century, and redefined society’s image of the modern princess.

Part one (Feb. 10) chronicles her upbringing in Britain’s royal family amidst cultural post-World War II transformation in Great Britain, a youth spent in the spotlight and how her private fascination with arts and artists led to scandal. Part two (Feb. 17) takes a peek at Princess Margaret’s early married life, followed by loss and subsequent lust for limelight, which leads to more scandal and scrutiny as major social changes sweep Britain.

WATCH: “Margaret: The Rebel Princess” Part 1 and Part 2

This new special, featuring rare footage and interviews with those who knew her best, offers unparalleled insight into Margaret’s turbulent life and times. Her unique position as the Queen’s younger sister in a changing Britain left her free to experiment and push boundaries, yet she was forever judged by a public and press beginning to question the very idea of a monarchy. While Margaret often followed the rigid rules under which she was raised, she also stepped outside those rules and into scandal. A complicated and contradictory princess, her story parallels the era, when the rules of social norms were rewritten and a freer, more egalitarian society emerged.

Margaret forged her own way by becoming a rule-breaking trendsetter and an eager participant in the excitement of a swinging 1960s London. Her loves were passionate if not always wise, from Peter Townsend, a married aide to her father, to her dashing yet philandering husband Lord Snowden, to the much-younger Roddy Llewellyn. But it was her relationship with her sister that was perhaps the most important and the woman against whom she defined herself all her life.

 

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