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2002-02-10

Princess Margaret
B. 8.21.30 Glamis, Scotland / D. 2.9.02 London
Stroke

To many people, Princess Margaret was the black sheep of her generation of royals. But that reputation did not necessarily trouble her. According to a biographer, Theo Aronson, she once told the French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, “Disobedience is my joy.” In a bit of a dragged-down state over the death of another (older sadder more broken down) princess of England.
Easily bored and often petulant, the princess was known for indulging her moods. I’m flying to London tomorrow for a week—there’ll be quite a bit about her in the air, I suppose, if I have the time to pay attention.
Her extravagant style also prompted outrage. I’ll be terribly busy patronizing the arts and haunting gravesites for suitable topics of composition—doing all those things I ought to be doing here all the time but just can’t seem to swing—
Critics complained that the number of her public appearances, which had once averaged 150 a year, had dwindled to well below 100. Some Labor members of Parliament called her an embarrassment to the monarchy. —especially on weekends.
Princess Margaret’s love of fun and informality coexisted with a sterner side. She insisted that she be addressed as “Ma’am,” except for her closest friends, who were permitted to call her “Ma’am darling.” The haughty manner alienated many friends. Distance! I need distance! I don’t want people to know me.
The princess herself remained reticent about her private life. “I have no intention of telling people what I have for breakfast,” she once said. And I don’t mind being mistaken for another (cheaper grayer less demonstrative) mourner from out of town, really.

Quotations from The New York Times (2.10.02)

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