Saturday 18 August 2018

Mary Kenny: The petulant princess?

A retrospective on her life portrays Princess Margaret as spoiled and difficult

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

It was always known among reporters who covered the British royal circuit that the late Princess Margaret was "difficult". She liked to be seen as a royal rebel and "with it" - in the lingo of the time - but people were warned that she'd seem friendly and approachable, and then suddenly pull rank. If those socialising with her alluded to "your sister", she would haughtily correct them with an icy "you mean, Her Majesty the Queen".

A new biography of Margaret, Ma'am Darling, depicts her as very difficult indeed. The author, Craig Brown, reports that on returning from a night's entertainment, Margaret would "touch the television, testing it for warmth, just in case the servants had been watching it when her back was turned". She always demanded water in her whisky - consumed with brio - but it had to be a freshly opened bottle of Malvern water, and woe betide the host who failed to provide her exact demands. She'd also snub anyone who failed to stock her favourite Scotch, Famous Grouse.

She was competitive, but could throw a tantrum if the competition didn't go her way. On one occasion - as a mature woman - she tossed a Trivial Pursuit board up in the air because a fellow player had outwitted her with the answer to a question about curried soup. (Margaret denied there was any such thing as "mulligatawny".)

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