Did Princess Margaret Make a Non-Fatal Suicide Attempt, as Depicted on 'The Crown'?

Princess Margaret lived a life that was filled with stress and heartache, especially towards the end. 'The Crown' suggests she once tried to kill herself.

Margaret On Day Of Divorce
(Image credit: Tim Graham)

CONTENT WARNING: suicide, self-harm. This story contains a brief description of a non-fatal suicide attempt. This content may be triggering for some readers. Spoilers for season 3 of The Crown follow. Princess Margaret lived a life that was filled with stress and heartache, especially towards the end. Her husband, Lord Tony Snowdon, had a long-term affair with Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, whom he would go on to marry after he and Margaret officially divorced. Margaret found love again with a young companion, Roddy Llewellyn, but private photos of the two on vacation caused a scandal in the press, and Roddy apparently briefly broke off the relationship after the first year.

Historians have said that Margaret's private life during this time was "traumatic" to her, and contributed to the ill health that plagued her at the end of her life. But there were also rumors that Margaret might have become so distraught that she—accidentally or not—might have done herself some harm.

Per The Telegraph, "At the height of her distress, and unable to sleep, she took a handful of Mogadon tablets and anxious staff found they were unable to wake her. Friends have always denied that it was an attempt at suicide. She would later explain: 'I was so exhausted because of everything that all I wanted to do was sleep...and I did, right through to the following afternoon.'"

She and Llewellyn subsequently rekindled their relationship, and the two dated for several years—including through the scandal of being photographed together, which ended Margaret's relationship with Snowdon for good (the first royal divorce since Henry VIII). Llewellyn later went on to marry someone else, but he and Margaret reportedly remained close throughout the rest of her life.

Princess Margaret and Roddy Llwellyn

(Image credit: Hulton Deutsch)

The show handles the chronology quite differently. An epic fight with Snowdon causes Llewellyn to leave the house for good. The irrevocably damaging conflict with the two men in her life causes a distraught Margaret to attempt an overdose (the show portrays it as a deliberate action). In the aftermath, a distraught Elizabeth visits Margaret to tell her that life would be "unbearable" without her. It's actually quite a tender, delicately handled scene—but, looking at the historical context, it's not clear whether that's what happened. But what is clear is that Margaret's later years were stressful and painful, and she needed her family around her more than ever. 

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States at 1-800-273-8255.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.