Margaret, the Rebel Princess

Elizabeth was queen, but their eyes were watching Margaret.

How should a princess act? Fairy tales give us ideas. So does Disney. So do the younger women in Buckingham Palace, as real British princesses have for centuries.

There’s certainly no definitive answer, but the question seemed to always surround Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister, Princess Margaret (at right, above).

The new, two-part biography, “Margaret, the Rebel Princess,” puts the spirited royal woman in the context of her family and her era on WGCU HD Feb. 10 and 17 , 2019, at 10 p.m.

It features rare footage and interviews with those who knew Princess Margaret best, offering insight into her 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, who was born in 1930, 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 her era, when the rules of social norms were being rewritten and a freer, more egalitarian society was emerging.

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, the woman against whom she defined herself all her life.

The biographypresents new interviews with several of her closest friends including Lady Anne Glenconner, Lady Jane Rayne and Jane Stevens; biographers Christopher Warwick, Craig Brown and Anne de Courcy; journalists Clive Irving of the Daily Express and Doris Bacon of the Associated Press and many others. They reveal Margaret as the first truly modern princess — a superstar who introduced a flash of Hollywood glamour into Buckingham Palace and paved the way for Diana, Kate and Meghan. A woman yearning for escape in a post-war world eager to shrug its own oppressive constraints, Margaret became a powerful and unpredictable force, reflecting and driving fundamental changes in our attitudes about the monarchy, celebrity, marriage and sex.

“People hold in their heads different ideas about what a princess should be,” said Clive Irving, former features editor of The Daily Express. “The ground wasn’t prepared for Margaret in the way it’s been prepared for our current royal princesses. They are the beneficiaries of the suffering and pain that Margaret went through.”