A Love Denied

Below are passages from a Daily Mail UK article about Princess Margaret and the man she had wanted to marry. The bittersweet longing in the piece and mournful ending provide enough drama to sustain a good long piece of fiction.

“Her tender touch betrayed their secret, as Margaret attentively brushed fluff from the dashing officer’s jacket.

Until then, Group Captain Peter Townsend and the Princess had been forced to hide their feelings. With the world watching, at the Coronation of Margaret’s sister, the couple seemed so much in love.

But it was a love that would be denied. She was a Princess who could not renounce her birthright and he was a divorcee in an age when divorce was a mark of shame….

They told each other they wanted to be together, but the prospect of marriage between the Queen’s sister and a divorced man raised ecclesiastical and constitutional problems.

The Queen, being fond of Margaret, was sympathetic. The Queen Mother, however, was deeply upset.

When Townsend told the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Alan “Tommy” Lascelles, of his desire to marry the Princess, the old-school courtier was outraged. “You must be either mad or bad,” Lascelles told Townsend.

When, in 1953, it became clear that the couple wanted to marry, the Queen asked them to do nothing and wait a year, perhaps hoping the flame of desire would die.

It was not until American columnists began to write about the possibility of a marriage that similar reports were printed in the British Press. Lascelles, the Queen’s private secretary, warned the monarch that Townsend must be sent away and, reluctantly, she agreed.

He was given a two-year posting as air attache in Brussels. But banishment neither stopped the romance nor speculation about it.

Most vehemently opposed in the Cabinet was Lord Salisbury, a High Anglican who threatened to resign if a bill were passed allowing the marriage….the Cabinet decided that if the Princess insisted on marrying Townsend, then a Bill of Renunciation would be placed before Parliament, stripping Margaret of all her rights, privileges and income.

Townsend felt he could not expect the Princess to make the necessary sacrifices and when they met he realised she had come to the same conclusion. ‘We had reached the end of the road,’ wrote Townsend. ‘Our feelings for one another were unchanged but they had incurred for us a burden so great that we decided, together, to lay it down.'”

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