Queen Elizabeth's "Daredevil" Sister's Secrets Revealed by Her Close Friend

Margaret’s lady-in-waiting tells all. 

Lady Anne Glenconner, 90, wife of Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, has been a fixture in the royal circuit since she was young. Friends with Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth, she attended many high-profile events and has clinked champagne glasses with multiple members of the Royal Family for several decades. She has published a few books about her memorable life, the first, released a few years ago, dubbed Lady in Waiting, and now Whatever Next? Lessons from an Unexpected Life.

In it, she rehashes many memories related to the royals, but specifically her close friend, the younger sister of the Queen, for whom she was lady-in-waiting to. Lady Glenconner reveals what was like to travel with the controversial Princess on luxurious vessels, how she made people faint, Margaret's impressive drinking routine, and one particularly heart-stopping airplane stunt. Read on to learn more about Princess Margaret's secrets and her adventurous life.

1
Controversial Royal Celebrity

Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon and her husband Antony Armstrong-Jones.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Decades before Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, Princess Margaret was one of the world's first global celebrities. The daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and the only sibling of Queen Elizabeth II, she was known for her glamorous lifestyle and ostensible romances. She is also one of the most talked about characters in the popular Netflix TV series, The Crown.

In one chapter of her book, Lady Anne Glenconner reminisces about a trip to Tuvalu. In an interview with The Times, she said: "The New Zealand navy lent Princess Margaret a frigate. We sat around having these rather terrible feasts and, from behind us, bare-bosomed ladies slapped down a sort of ghastly grey muck on our leaves – it was leaf service – which one had to eat."

2
Daredevil Princess in Sky

Angel Falls waterfall.
Shutterstock

According to Lady Glenconner, Princess Margaret could be as fearless as she was stubborn. She shares a story from a visit to Venezuela, where Margaret defied her advisors and took her life into her own hands. At the time, visitors wanted to take a flight in a small plane to enjoy views of Angel Falls waterfall — the world's tallest uninterrupted waterfall, with a height of 3,211 feet and a plunge of 2,647 feet. But plans were held up by the security officer who thought it would be too dangerous for the princess to board the flight. Princess Margaret initially accepted the recommendation but soon changed her mind.

"Suddenly there was a huge roar and up went the plane, with Princess Margaret on board," Lady Glenconner explains. "She'd sneaked away without telling us. We watched in horror, our hearts in our mouths, as the little aircraft whizzed over the falls." Princess Margaret's plane landed safely, but she had to face her unimpressed private secretary, who said very gravely. "Ma'am, you shouldn't have done that! You put us in an impossible position." He was proved right sooner than anybody could expect—two days later, the plane crashed and was destroyed. "I still feel slightly sick when I think about it," Lady Glenconner admits.

3
Extravagant Lifestyle

Princess Margaret (R) speaks to Royal Ballet dancer David Wall in 1978 during a Covent Garden Opera House after the premiere of the ballet, "Mayerling."
Getty Images

Lady Glenconner, whose role was often, as she puts it, to serve as a buffer between Princess Margaret and other people, shared more secrets about her friend's extravagant lifestyle. "She drank gin and tonic at lunchtime and whisky and water in the evening, so I'd check that someone had an eye on her glass to see if she needed another. She often did!," Lady Glenconner said.

4
Her Presence Caused People to Faint

Princess Margaret
Les Lee / Stringer /Getty Images

She also added that the princess "valued friends who didn't want anything from her" and ones who weren't so "overwhelmed by her royal status that they couldn't act normally." "In Princess Margaret's presence, people occasionally stuttered, fell over (more than one lady sank so low in a curtsey that she collapsed) or even fainted," she explains.

5
Lady Glenconner Celebrated Holidays with Elizabeth and Margaret

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In the book, she also talks about her upbringing and how her mother was lady-in-waiting to the Queen's mother, which is how she came to know both the Queen and Margaret. She even celebrated holidays with them at Sandringham.

6
There Will "Never Be Another Coronation" Like Queen Elizabeth's

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She was also maid of honour at the Queen's coronation, where she was photographed and interviewed by the press with other girls. "We were a sort of harbinger of the girl bands," she said. "There'll never be another coronation like that, ever. It was really tip top."

7
Lady Glenconner Agrees with King Charles Having a Smaller Coronation

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What does she think about the King's plans for a much smaller soiree? "I think it has to be. And anyway, I'm so fond of King Charles but, you know, he's not young. The Queen was so beautiful, so glamorous, and look at the Duke of Edinburgh. He was to die for. People were madly in love with him. It was absolute perfection."

8
Lady Glenconner Went to Both King Charles' Weddings

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

"I went to his wedding," Glenconner said about King Charles. "Both weddings, actually." She added that he will make a "great" king. "He's had long enough. He really minds about things and people and you can see it. And she's great. She's wonderful for him."

RELATED: The Biggest Royal Romance Scandals of All Time

9
"The Crown" Is "Fiction"

Netflix

As for The Crown, she maintains it is merely fiction. "One saw the moment when I was on, and Princess Margaret, and it bore no relation to the truth whatsoever. I don't watch it now. I couldn't. It would make me so angry, seeing people trashed like that. Well, not trashed, but not like them. It's fiction. I think it should say so clearly."

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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