Did Princess Margaret Ask to Share the Queen's Duties?

Princess Margaret gets a lot of screen time in 'The Crown' season 3. Did she ever ask Elizabeth to share royal duties, as the show suggests?

Princesses Elizabeth And Margaret
(Image credit: Lisa Sheridan)

Fans of Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's younger sister, will be pleasantly surprised to see more of the rebellious royal in season three. While there was plenty of drama and controversy surrounding QE2's sister throughout the years (you can read more about that here), it probably had to do with the fact that she never had to perform official royal duties.

When Queen Elizabeth was first crowned her title in 1953, Princess Margaret was considered too young to undertake official responsibilities. However, that didn't stop her from representing the Queen publicly throughout the years. According to the Royal Family website, Margaret carried out public engagements at a young age when she was Patron of the Scottish Children's League (she became its President in 1966). She even joined the King and Queen and Princess Elizabeth on their South African tour in 1947.

Royal Sisters

Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, in 1936.

(Image credit: Lisa Sheridan)

Whether or not it was ever a consideration for the Queen and Margaret to split QE2's official duties, that remains a mystery—and highly unlikely that Margaret ever asked. This is a sharp split from the narrative in The Crown season 3, in which a young Queen Elizabeth, terrified by the prospect of a lifetime of being monarch, asks her younger, more extroverted sister if she could just take her place. Margaret is thrilled about the plan (and you can see why it would make sense to a child: you want this thing and I don't, so can you just have it?), and Elizabeth goes to formally ask if such a thing would be possible. This gets Elizabeth a stern telling-off—this isn't how these things work, she's told—and both girls are surprised and upset. This sets up the adult relationship between the two portrayed on The Crown, in which Margaret is constantly furious about playing second fiddle, and Elizabeth is constantly refusing to apologize for it. At one point, at the end of the "Margaratology" episode, Margaret asks formally if she can take on more of the Queen's duties—and Prince Philip advises the Queen to reject the proposal, which she does, to Margaret's chagrin.

In real life, there is a possibility, of course, that Margaret's rebellion over the years stemmed from her lack of central leadership and say in the royal family. According to HistoryExtraan online publication from BBC History Magazine and BBC World Histories Magazine, "When a novelist asked Margaret if she ever dreamt about the Queen, Margaret replied that she had nightmares of being 'disapproved of.'"

Clearly, she held herself to a high standard and would have done the same if she was granted those formal responsibilities.

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