Daily Mail revisits Princess Margaret’s stylish nuptials

The most glamorous wedding of all! Daily Mail revisits Princess Margaret’s stylish nuptials to Lord Snowdon with original newspaper reports from 1960 – including their THREE HOUR honeymoon send-off

  • Ahead of Meghan and Harry’s nuptials the Daily Mail is remembering some of the best loved royal weddings  
  • This special edition was created from original reports of Princess Margaret’s wedding on May 7, 1960
  • The Queen’s younger sister married Lord Snowdon at Westminster Abbey in the most stylish fashion 

As the nation prepares for Prince Harry’s nuptials to Meghan Markle on May 19, the Daily Mail is counting down the days by reflecting on the best loved royal nuptials.

In Wednesday’s paper we share the original Daily Mail reports of Princess Margaret’s wedding to Lord Snowdon on May 7, 1960.

Princess Margaret flashes a coy smile as she makes her way to Westminster Abbey to marry Lord Snowdon

HONEYMOON AHOY! ROSE PETALS AND BOOMING SIRENS ON THREE-HOUR SEND-OFF DOWN THE THAMES 

By Vincent Mulchrone 

Honeymoon bound down the Thames last night, Britannia answered the shore stations’ customary inquiry ‘Whither bound’ with the jaunty signal of British seadogs of old: ‘Destination unknown — high seas.’

Then, as she turned into the open seas, the royal yacht closed her radio to all but official messages — and Princess Margaret and her husband were at last alone.

They waved goodbye to London as Britannia cleared Tower Bridge — and the Princess, in one of her first wifely acts, flicked confetti from Mr Armstrong-Jones’s dark blue suit.

Londoners farewell to Honeymooners. Londoners gathered in King Edward Memorial Park, Shadwell, wave farewell to the Royal yacht Britannia as she passes down Thames bearing Princess Margaret and Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones on their honeymoon cruise to the West Indies

But London, as though unwilling to see them go, stretched out her leavetaking the length of the river. For almost three hours the historic, unlovely Thames came alive again as the ‘royal river’ — a flag-fringed, cheering stream over which sirens boomed out a blessing in the form of the Morse letters ‘M.A.’

WEDDING DAY FACT 

Two scares disrupted the quiet of Westminster Abbey early yesterday. A caller to Scotland Yard at 3am said: ‘A bomb has been placed in the Abbey.’ Car-loads of police searched, but found nothing. Meanwhile, the fire brigade were called out to reports of smoke in a fifth-floor window of nearby Westminster Abbey Choir School — but it turned out to be steam and flickering candles lit by the school matron Miss R Hodgson, who was taking a bath. 

A cheeky tugboat under Tower Bridge started it. A French merchantman took it up. A Dutchman passed it on, then two British colliers. Ocean liners and Liberian tubs joined the chorus. Sailors from Calcutta and republicans from Eire yanked on cords until the air about Britannia was hazy with siren steam.

The great blasts of sound, echoing from the walls of warehouses, soap factories and cement works, thundered around Britannia, sending gulls and pigeons wheeling into the sky.

And, laughing and waving, the two figures on the bridge seemed to exult in this, the noisiest, earthiest, almost spontaneous outburst of affection in a day of high emotion.

This royal processional way was packed with pinafored housewives on grimy wharves, sweat-stained dockers waving from high warehouse doors, and children sending up piping cheers from pleasure boats.

Far from the flowers and bunting of Westminster, the people of the river formed a frieze of cheering goodwill on jetties, coal heaps and the outfall sewers of London’s drainage system.

They waved from pylons and cranes, and raised glasses of ale and stout from the balconies of riverside pubs.

Princess Margaret waves to the onlookers when she left with her husband Antony Armstrong Jones to join the Royal Yacht Britannia for start of their Honeymoon

Having changed out of her wedding dress an ever-glamorous Margaret opted for an all-blue ensemble for her departure

The yacht progressed down the Thames, through Tower Bridge, to a chorus of siren steam from fellow ships

As dusk fell, all that could be seen from the river banks was Princess Margaret’s going-away outfit and the dim figure of Mr Armstrong-Jones. Several times they stepped off the bridge, but returned again and again to the rail as another dock brought back the sirens’ boom and the people’s cheers.

Britannia; her sailors lining the main deck, pith-helmeted Marines drawn up on the upper deck, was a regal sight as the Princess’s standard was hoisted at the mainmast just before she began her journey. The time: 5.25pm, a good 15 minutes behind schedule. Two tugs darted in quickly to take Britannia’s lines. The gleaming ship looked magnificent, sleek and royal in the late afternoon haze.

London Bridge, the environs of Tower Bridge, and every available toe and hand-hold on the wharves and jetties on both sides of the river had its quota of flag-waving, cheering people. London Bridge was a solid mass split up the middle by a thin red line of buses. All the drabness which is London’s dockland had become gay and alive this fine summer evening.

Everything that floated was draped with bunting — even dirty old tugs had dug out flags to wave farewell to the happy couple.

Four police launches and two tugs fussed busily around Britannia for some minutes before black smoke puffed out from the cream-coloured raked funnel, and she prepared to move.

AMERICANS CAME TO SCOFF BUT LEFT CHEERING 

 The best years of their lives began today for HRH Princess Margaret and her husband, Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones.

There were no flaws, no hitches during the ceremony which flowed smoothly along in brilliant colour and pageantry in Westminster Abbey.

This was a wonderful day for the Princess and her husband. Neither looked nervous. Only the Queen herself was grave, looking almost anxiously towards the main entrance of Westminster Abbey awaiting the arrival of her younger sister.

It would be untrue to say there have not been some unpleasant reports about this marriage in the American and continental newspapers. Today, all that was forgotten.

This was a triumph not only for the bride and bridegroom, but for the British people who have taken the couple to their hearts.

Here is a love match between Princess and commoner, sealed and solemnised in one of our most historic shrines.

Everyone was represented in the Abbey. Boy Scouts; Sea Scouts in shorts; choirboys wearing white carnations in their cassocks; bishops in bright red; nuns in midnight black; generals in scarlet uniforms; lovely women in outrageous hats; ushers; messenger boys — and several hundred reporters.

The Americans were there in force. Some had come to scoff and sneer. They left to cheer. We do these things well.

Now, you do not expect from me some descriptive piece about the sun shining through the strained glass windows — although it did.

What I want to tell you is that this was a family day. A great day for a lovely daughter who has known her heart ache, going to the altar with the man she loves. It is as simple as that.

When Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones stood before the Archbishop of Canterbury — the same archbishop who gave her such solemn advice in the past — the great and glorious, the mighty and wealthy of the land, were assembled around them.

The couple were honoured, they were pleased, but I do not think they gave great thought to the glittering assembly. They had no eyes except for each other.

Up came the mooring chains and at 5.38pm she was off, trailing an ever-widening herringbone wake.

With the Princess’s first wave the siren symphony began. The Spanish cargo ship Monte Urquiola kept up her deep-throated braying so long that the Royal Marines band playing on the upper deck might just as well not have bothered. I doubt if the Princess could have heard the music, let alone we on the shore. Between siren blasts, the sweeter sound of church bells rolled up river.

As Britannia left Tower Bridge behind, the waterfronts of Millwall, Wapping and Silvertown came alive. Little-used bunting fluttered from salt-stained coasters.

A gang of small boys, who had fought a day-long battle with lightermen to gain a prohibited vantage point, suddenly burst from beneath a tarpaulin and waved cheekily at the yacht towering above them.

The five o’clock sirens had long sounded, but dockers, lightermen, and sailors stuck to their vantage points as Britannia, all agleam amid the ‘working’ ships, sailed the historic royal reaches of the river. They cheered and whistled through their fingers from the wharves of Deptford, where Elizabeth I knighted Drake in the Golden Hind.

On the Isle of Dogs, they crowded to the very water’s edge. On the opposite shore they packed the pier at Greenwich, birthplace of Tudor monarchs.

Here, Cutty Sark, last of the windjammers, flew the signal ‘Happy Voyage’. An old woman, misty-eyed on the pier, cried ‘God bless you’ as she waved.

Mr Armstrong-Jones had a special wave for his old East End friends and neighbours at Rotherhithe as Britannia slipped down river past the converted public house that used to be his studio.

People from the shabby street who used to drink with him in the Angel crowded in hundreds to the waterfront to watch. And as the royal yacht steamed past his old studio at the Little Midshipman, they began waving and shouting.

Riverboats hooted and ship builders on repair work beat their hammers in the traditional dockyard celebration. Mr Armstrong-Jones glanced to his left and saw the timbered riverside window of his old studio — hung with a Union Jack and Red Ensign — and old friends waving madly.

Quickly, he turned to Princess Margaret. Together they turned and waved. Then, as the ship drew level, they raced to the starboard side of the observation deck, just below Britannia’s bridge.

Flourishing their hands high in the air excitedly, they stayed saluting for three minutes — as the crowds on the other side of the river looked in vain for the couple.

Then the Princess suddenly remembered that they should be seen by all and ran back to the middle of the observation bridge.

Britannia’s speed was up to about 15 knots as she breasted the flood of cheers and sirens at Tilbury.

Sea cadets lined Tilbury landing stage and sent three cheers winging across the water. ‘Many thanks,’ replied Britannia.

Every craft on the river was dressed in a brave splash of colour under the darkening sky. Girls of a Sea Rangers unit ran up the flag message: ‘Good luck God Speed.’

Just before midnight Britannia was in the open sea, her speed reduced to six knots by poor visibility.

The royal couple were still waving, still smiling, still — one might guess — very moved at the great flood of affection which kept pace with them along the river.

TONY WAVED AND THE CROWD BURST INTO ‘FOR HE’S A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW’

By Michael Brown 

Balcony scene at Buckingham Palace — but with a difference. The Queen gives pride of place to the newlyweds, as a cheering crowd of 100,000 in The Mall calls for ‘Tony’.

As he stood on the Palace balcony, the Royal Family about him, plain Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones suddenly stole the show.

He stood there shyly, almost awkwardly, as the crowd surged in a solid dust- kicking cavalcade to press against the railings below.

Look of love! Anthony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret exchange joyful smiles after the ceremony 

Royal wave! Princess Margaret acknowledges well-wishers ad the family gathers on the balcony at Buckingham Palace 

They cheered the smiling Princess, they roared for the Queen, there was an affectionate burst of enthusiasm for the Prince of Wales, who started waving furiously on his own.

‘Tony’ stood there apparently uncertain what to do. Then, through binoculars, I saw Princess Margaret turn laughingly to her husband and say something. He raised his arm — and the cheers thundered in reply.

The Princess lightly touched his hand and spoke again. And Mr Armstrong-Jones waved a second time. This time, the crowd burst into For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.

He waved again — and back came the roars. He was a Londoner, a commoner, alone among the crowned and titled — and the carefree, generous crowd were showing it approved.

All around, people were talking of him in the way they do of Prince Philip. ‘Bet he wishes he could take a picture from up there . . .’

Everyone around seemed to want to talk about him — the girls said he looked ‘dashing’ and ‘much better looking than his pictures’.

For the hordes of revellers who decided to make an evening of it, it was fiesta night in the West End on the warmest night of the year — 61 degrees at 11pm.

Sightseers were still roaming the streets up to midnight, and The Mall was lively with milling crowds reluctant to go home.

They were rewarded at 11.35pm when the car carrying the Queen, Prince Philip, and Queen Ingrid of Denmark back from Clarence House drove through the gates of Buckingham Palace.

The royal party had dined with the Queen Mother. When their car set out at 8.30pm, a crowd of several thousand blocked the carriageway in front of the Palace gates.

Soon after their return, the Palace floodlighting was switched off and sightseers began to disperse.

Huge crowds filled The Mall and police with loudspeakers kept traffic moving in one direction from Trafalgar Square around the Victoria Monument and along Constitution Hill.

ROYAL WITH A TOUCH OF MONTE CARLO

By Eve Perrick 

By our stiff necks you will recognise us, the lucky thousand who were in Westminster Abbey yesterday. Because at this, surely the gayest and most glamorous of royal weddings, there was so much to see.

And what there was to see was happening on four sides at once and also being relayed on closed-circuit television sets.

Hence the brand-new fashionable complaint — Royal Wedding Neck. But, my goodness, it was worth it.

I have been to highly publicised weddings before. I was outside the Abbey when the Queen married Prince Philip. I saw Prince Rainier of Monaco marry film star Grace Kelly. The unique quality of yesterday’s semi-State occasion was that it combined the best elements of both.

It was a right royal affair, of course. But it was, at the same time, a warm, friendly, sparkling, and not at all staid, get-together of well-known personalities from so many walks of life.

Altar bound: Bride Princess Margaret is accompanied by her brother-in-law Prince Philip as she makes her way down the aisle

The Queen the Queen Mother, and Princess Anne arrive at Westminster Abbey for a final rehearsal for the wedding

The sunshine helped. It added the Monte Carlo gala touch. Before the ceremony, we stood outside on the Abbey lawns in our wedding finery complimenting each other on how splendid we all looked. We did, too.

There were several couturiers among the assembly — Belinda Bellville and John Cavanagh, as well as the royal dressmaker, Norman Hartnell — and all agreed it was one of the best-dressed weddings they had ever attended.

The informal forgathering on the grass was more than ever appreciated when the time came to take our places inside.

For there did seem to be a somewhat rigid demarcation line between — if you will pardon the expression, I use it only because it strikes me as apt — the Gentlemen and the Players.

Under Players, I classify the actors and other creative artists, all of whom were ushered through the Poets’ Corner door. That way came Mr Noel Coward, looking more royal than any duke.

In Poets’ Corner were placed Mr Armstrong-Jones’s former girlfriend Miss Jacqui Chan, the actress Miss Anna Massey (wearing the brightest hued outfit of them all, a livid lime green which set off her red hair), Sir Michael and Lady Redgrave, and Mr Peter Hall with wife Leslie Caron.

However, Dame Margot Fonteyn, as an Ambassador’s wife, entered through the West Side, reserved for the bride, groom, the Royal Family, their personal guests, Cabinet Ministers and top-ranking diplomats.

Joyce Grenfell, as a niece of the Duchess of Gloucester and a long-standing friend of the Queen Mother, also rated ‘next-best’ treatment. She used the North Door. So did the only poet present — Mr John Betjeman.

The North Transept Aisle could almost have been dubbed Reunion Clubhouse for the ex-members of the Margaret Set. The Dalkeiths (Lady Dalkeith, one of many who chose a coffee-and-cream colour scheme, was my choice as the most beautiful woman in the Abbey, barring the bride, of course), the Porchesters, the Colin Tennants.

Lord Blandford sat next to his father, making a pair of womanless Marlboroughs (the Duchess is ill, the Blandfords have separated).

Sir Anthony and Lady Eden (in a blue tulle sombrero) next to Lady Violet Bonham Carter and Lord and Lady Attlee brought a slightly political atmosphere with them which helped to break up the too solid ranks of ex-debbery.

Centre of attraction and attention, inevitably, was the altar, where I was intrigued to note two handsome black-and-gold chairs had been placed on either side of what looked like a miniature throne of red-velvet upholstered gilt.



Now that’s what you call a crown ma’am! L-R: Frank Jacobs adds the finishing touches to the cake, decorator Jack Duthie carries a coronet and porter Harry Broughton with a gift of fruit

THE GROOM’S MOTHER AND TWO STEPMOTHERS 

Yesterday’s wedding started something in the way of mothers-in-law.

It is not unusual, today, to find the bride or bridegroom’s mother and stepmother at a wedding. But one mother and two stepmothers is certainly a record for a fashionable wedding — as far as I know.

And it shows the trend for friendliness after divorce in society circles. There was Lady Rosse — mother of the bridegroom — certainly one of the belles of the wedding.

There was Mrs Carol Lopez, his first stepmother; along with the present Mrs Jenifer Armstrong-Jones, his second stepmother. And not only were the three wives present — but their husbands came too.

It was all very, very friendly indeed.



Pictured, L-R: The groom’s stepmother number one, Mrs Carol Lopez, mother Lady Rosse, and stepmother number two Jennifer Armstrong Jones

However, as it turned out, Prince Philip sat on the ‘throne’ between the Queen and the Queen Mother.

I’d say he deserved the place of honour. Princess Margaret was for the most part, completely cool, calm and collected. But there were a few anxious moments — and at those times Philip showed himself to be a veritable Rock of Gibraltar.

At the entrance to the Abbey, the Princess had to wait several minutes, with the TV cameras full on her, before starting that walk down the aisle.

The strain was beginning to show. Immediately, the man who was to give her away took the strain. He made a joke and laughed. The Princess wanted to laugh, too, but was frightened to move her head in case her veil became disarranged. Philip made a joke of that as well. The tension passed.

The Abbey guests saw only a radiant bride able to put a slightly nervous bridegroom at his ease.

About this bridegroom, now. I feel it timely that his correct height should be recorded somewhere —and here and now is as good a place as any.

Mr Armstrong-Jones stands 5ft 7½in in his socks.

Yesterday, even though the Princess was wearing a piled top-knotted hairdo plus a heavy tiara (and probably high heels as well), her groom still managed to look down on her from a height which allowed him a couple of inches to spare.

A few people near me seemed surprised at this and commented upon it. Most observations about him, though, were directed at his boyish appearance, which belied his 30 years and his brilliantly cut suit of clothes.

Formal morning coats, I know, can be great equalisers, but yesterday it was interesting to note that the sponge-bag checked pants of the guests in Poets’ Corner were tailored a trifle tighter than the trousers worn on the north and west sides of the Abbey.

And while we’re on the subject of men’s fashions, Prince Philip’s very large, very pink carnation (where all the other gentlemen sported white or red ones) was the subject of much speculation and even more admiration.

It provided that unexpected, unorthodox, but delightfully colourful touch which was so much a feature of the wedding of Princess Margaret to Mr Tony Armstrong-Jones on May 6, 1960.

WHAT STYLISH SISTERS! HER MAJESTY DAZZLED IN BRILLIANT TURQUOISE 

It was the most fashionable wedding of the year. Not only because it was royal, but because it was an opportunity for the Queen and the Royal Family to wear clothes that are worn at no other function.

There is the long regal dress — not an evening dress but one that is suitable for wearing in the daytime in the bright spring sunshine, and one that can be worn with a hat. No easy problem for the designers.

The most outstanding thing about the Queen’s dress, hat and gloves was the colour — a brilliant shade of turquoise the colour of a warm Mediterranean sea.

It was a simple dress — no furs, no elaborate embroidery, no appliqued flowers, just blue faille and lace. It was a simple head-dress — no huge feathered hat, but a couple of simple roses mounted on a veil.

Regal in blue: The Queen’s perfect outfit — a brilliant shade of turquoise the colour of a warm Mediterranean sea

And no mountains of jewellery, just pearls and diamonds to set off the wonderfully clear colour of her dress. What made the Queen choose this simple dress with its full skirt, its tailored belt, its short bolero?

It was an ideal dress for the Queen’s figure — the belt showed off her waist; the full skirt gave her extra dignity; the three-quarter sleeves showed off her ruched gloves and diamond bracelet.

The Queen Mother, however, was more traditionally dressed, except that her stole was cut like a tunic to show off the new long, long gloves that everyone will be wearing this year. And instead of fox furs, she chose a pale honey mink to set off the white and gold of her lamé dress.

And probably the most noticeable thing about the Queen Mother yesterday was she was wearing a hat that we have come to look for on every big occasion. Just like her mother-in-law, Queen Mary, she has found what suits her — and sticks to it.

MARGARET’S DRESS: IDEAL FOR A 1960s FAIRYTALE

The handclasp firm, the tread purposeful . . . that’s how they left the Abbey. This was the Princess and the Commoner fused into a union with a pageantry and pomp even the sun could not resist.

This was it — the 1960 fairy story that left the Cold War, H-bombs, rockets and a ghastly scientific world just smiles and heartbeats behind.

And this was the wedding dress in which she looked, every inch, the Princess Rose — and put a radiant smile on the face of the nation.

I have never seen more elegance, such perfect taste. The small figure rendered more beautiful in Norman Hartnell’s graceful, uncluttered line.

Breathtaking: The princess’ wedding gown that put a radiant smile on the face of the nation

The head-dress was a triumph of proportion. The Princess’s own hair is too short to have held that deep tiara and veil with safety.

Hairdresser Rene lent to beauty the artifice of fashion. A small chignon of hair, exactly matching the Princess’s, filled the centre of the tiara, rising slightly above it.

It was an artifice of genius; it took courage to wear, courage that came but naturally to a Princess in love.

And the bridal veil . . . short at the sides and of very light tulle edged with organza, unusual because it was beautifully graduated to fall from short sides to the full train; unusual because it was fastened to fall from the base of the diamond tiara and no attempt was made to cover the top of the head at all.

So she looked exquisitely beautiful as we had expected, but more beautiful than we had the right to expect.

The Princess and her husband left the Abbey for the balcony, the cheers, the change into going-away clothes, the drive to the Britannia.

It was truly a glorious royal wedding, and, perhaps, the most glamorous ever.

This special edition was created from original reports from the Daily Mail of May 7, 1960 

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