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

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.