Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon: Wikis


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Antony Armstrong-Jones
Earl of Snowdon
Earl of Snowdon
Reign 6 October 1961 - present
Heir-Apparent David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley
Spouse Princess Margaret (m. 1960–1978) «start: (1960)–end+1: (1979)»"Marriage: Princess Margaret to Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon" Location: (linkback:,_1st_Earl_of_Snowdon)
Lucy Lindsay-Hogg (m. 1978–2000) «start: (1978)–end+1: (2001)»"Marriage: Lucy Lindsay-Hogg to Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon" Location: (linkback:,_1st_Earl_of_Snowdon)
Polly Fry
David Armstrong-Jones
Sarah Chatto
Frances Armstrong-Jones
Jasper Cable-Alexander
Full name
Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones
Father Ronald Armstrong-Jones
Mother Anne Messel
Born March 7, 1930 (1930-03-07) (age 80)
Occupation Photographer

Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, GCVO, RDI, (born 7 March 1930) is an English photographer and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker who sits in the House of Lords by a life peerage granted him in 1999. He was married to Princess Margaret from 1960 to 1978. Despite his divorce and the death of his former wife in 2002, he maintains a close relationship with the Royal Family and occasionally takes official photographs of the Queen.


Early life

The future Lord Snowdon was born of minor Welsh gentry and Jewish banking heritage, the only son from the marriage of the barrister Ronald Armstrong-Jones (1899–1966) and his first wife, the society beauty Anne Messel (1902–1992, later Countess of Rosse). His maternal great-grandfather was the Punch cartoonist Linley Sambourne (1844–1910), his great-great-uncle Alfred Messel was a well-known Berlin architect, and his mother's brother was Oliver Messel, a noted British set and costume designer and architect. His parents separated when he was young, and his childhood was completely lacking any normal emotional warmth - as a schoolboy he contracted polio, and, for the entire six months that he was in Liverpool Royal Infirmary, his only family visits were from his sister Susan.[1]


Armstrong-Jones was educated at Eton and Cambridge, where he studied architecture. While at Cambridge, he coxed the winning Cambridge boat in the 1950 Boat Race.[2] After university, he took up a career as a photographer in fashion, design and theatre. As his career as a portraitist began to flourish, he became known for his royal studies, among which were the official portraits of his future sister-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Duke of Edinburgh for their 1957 tour of Canada.

In the early 1960s, he became the picture editor of the Sunday Times magazine, and by the 1970s had gained a reputation as one of Britain's most prominent and respected photographers. Though his subject matter includes everything from fashion models to documentary-style images of inner city life and the mentally ill, he is best known for his portraits of world notables (the National Portrait Gallery has more than 100 in its collection), many of them published in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and The Daily Telegraph magazine. His subjects have included Barbara Cartland, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Blunt, J. R. R. Tolkien, and others.

In 2001, Snowdon was given a retrospective exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Photographs by Snowdon: A Retrospective, which later travelled to the Yale Center for British Art. More than 180 of his photographs were displayed in an exhibition that honored what the museums called "a rounded career with sharp edges".

He also co-designed, in 1960–1963, with Frank Newby and Cedric Price, the aviary of the London Zoo. He had a major role in designing the physical arrangements for the 1969 investiture of his nephew Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.[3]


Books of Snowdon's works

  • London. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1958. (A later edition has ISBN 0297167634.)
  • Assignments. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1972. ISBN 0297995820.
  • A View of Venice. [Ivrea]: Olivetti, c1972.
  • Personal View. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979. ISBN 0297777157.
  • Snowdon Tasmania Essay. Hobart: Ronald Banks, 1981. ISBN 0858280078. Text by Trevor Wilson.
  • Sittings, 1979-1983. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983. ISBN 0297783149.
  • Israel: A First View. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1986. ISBN 0297788604.
  • Stills 1984-1987. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987. ISBN 0297791850.
  • Serendipity: A Light-hearted Look at People, Places and Things. Brighton: Royal Pavilion, Art Gallery & Museums, 1989. ISBN 0948723106.
  • Public Appearances 1987-1991. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1991. ISBN 0297831224.
  • Hong Kong: Portraits of Power. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995. ISBN 0316220523. Text by Evelyn Huang and Lawrence Jeffery.
  • Wild Flowers. London: Pavilion, 1995. ISBN 185793783X.
  • Snowdon on Stage: With a Personal View of the British Theatre 1954-1996. London: Pavilion, 1996. ISBN 1857939190.
  • Wild Fruit. London: Bloomsbury, 1997. ISBN 0747537003. Text by Penny David.
  • London: Sight Unseen. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999. ISBN 0297824902. Text by Gwyn Headley.
  • Photographs by Snowdon: A Retrospective. London: National Portrait Gallery, 2000. ISBN 1855142724.
  • Snowdon. London: Chris Beetles Gallery, 2006. ISBN 1871136997.

First marriage

In February 1960, Snowdon, still known as Antony Armstrong-Jones, became engaged to the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, and they married on 6 May 1960 at Westminster Abbey. The couple made their home in apartments at Kensington Palace. He was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley of Nymans in the County of Sussex on 6 October 1961, due to concerns over the prospect of a British princess giving birth to a child without a title. The Snowdon title has centuries-old royal associations, since the name Snowdon was borne by the Welsh princes and the House of Gwynedd before 1282, though here it was granted as a nod to Armstrong-Jones's Welsh ancestry. The subsidiary Linley title honored Lord Snowdon's great-grandfather Linley Sambourne as well as Nymans, the Messel family estate in West Sussex. David, Viscount Linley, was born 3 November 1961, and a second child, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, on 1 May 1964.

Recently it has emerged that Snowdon fathered a daughter shortly before marrying Princess Margaret.[4] According to Anne de Courcy, the child was born in 1960, in the third week of Lord Snowdon's marriage to Princess Margaret. WWD described the daughter as having been "conceived from a threesome with two close friends".[5] She is Polly Fry, brought up as a daughter of Jeremy Fry, inventor and member of the Fry's chocolate family, and his first wife, Camilla. A DNA test in 2004 apparently proved Snowdon's paternity.[6]

The marriage began to collapse very early and publicly. Various causes may have lain behind the failure. On Margaret's side there was a penchant for late-night partying, on Snowdon's, an undisguised sexual promiscuity. ("If it moves, he'll have it," was the summing up of one close friend.[7]) To most of the girls who worked in the Pimlico Road studio, there seemed little doubt that Tony was gay; to which Snowdon himself responded, "I didn't fall in love with boys - but a few men have been in love with me."[7] In his 2009 memoir, Redeeming Features, British interior decorator Nicholas Haslam claims that he had an affair with Snowdon before the latter's marriage to Princess Margaret, and that Snowdon had also been the lover of another leading interior decorator, Tom Parr.[8] Others have pointed out that both Snowdon and Margaret were stars in their own right, and were used to being the centre of attention, leading to clashes over primacy. Margaret was initially surprised that her husband had no intention of giving up his rising photographic career. Because Snowdon travelled around the world to complete assignments, he was often separated from his wife for many weeks.

The break-up lasted sixteen years, accompanied by drugs, alcohol, and bizarre behaviour by both parties, such as Snowdon's leaving lists between the pages for her to find, of "things I hate about you".[7] According to biographers Sarah Bradford and Anne de Courcy, one note read: "You look like a Jewish manicurist and I hate you".[7][9] When high society palled, Snowdon would escape to a hideaway cottage with his lovers, or on overseas photographic assignments; most people, including the Royal Family, took his side.[7]

Princess Margaret was equally promiscuous. Insecure in the shadow of her sister the Queen, she would point out her husband's less-than-royal origins, once correcting publicly his use of the "non-U" word "material" (as in cloth) for what U-speakers offhandedly called "stuff".

The marriage ended in divorce in 1978, when Roddy Llewellyn briefly entered Princess Margaret's life and Snowdon played the outraged husband.

Second marriage

After his divorce from Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon married Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, former wife of film director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, on 15 December 1978. Their only child, Frances Armstrong-Jones, was born seven months later, on 17 July 1979.

Lord and Lady Snowdon divorced in 2000 after the revelation that the 68-year-old earl had fathered a son, Jasper Cable-Alexander (born 30 April 1998), with Melanie Cable-Alexander, an editor at Country Life magazine.[10]

Life peerage

On 16 November 1999 Lord Snowdon was created Baron Armstrong-Jones, of Nymans in the County of West Sussex. This was a life peerage given him so that he could keep his seat in the House of Lords after the hereditary peers had been excluded. An offer of a life peerage was made to all hereditary peers of the first creation (i.e., those for whom a peerage was originally created, as opposed to those who inherited a peerage from an ancestor) at that time.

Titles, styles, honours and arms


  • 7 March 1930–6 October 1961: Antony Armstrong-Jones, Esq.
  • 6 October 1961 — : The Rt Hon. The Earl of Snowdon



See also


  1. ^ "Snowdon: the Biography" by Anne de Courcy, reviewed by Duncan Fallowell, Daily Telegraph, 20 June 2008.
  2. ^ British Rowing Almanack 1950
  3. ^ Royal, by Robert Lacey, 2002.
  4. ^ Andy Bloxham "Lord Snowdon fathered a secret love child just months before marrying Princess Margaret", Sunday Telegraph, 31 May 2008. Retrieved on 28 June 2008.
  5. ^ Conti, Samantha, "The Tony Earl", WWD, 21 November 2008, page 10
  6. ^ Colette Sheridan The Royal Rebel's Secret Love Child [1], Social & Personal magazine, Vol.47, no.37., November 2008.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Snowdon: the Biography" by Anne de Courcy, reviewed by Duncan Fallowell, Daily Telegraph, 20 June 2008.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Bradford, Sarah (1996). Elizabeth. London: William Heinemann. 
  10. ^ Mitchell Owens, "Noticed: Blood Tells. So Does Burke's", The New York Times, 27 July 1999
  11. ^ Maclagan, Michael; Louda, Jiří (1999). Line of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. London: Little, Brown & Co. p. 31. ISBN 0-85605-469-1. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Kidd, Charles; Williamson, David, ed (2003). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. London: Debrett's Peerage Limited. p. 1490. 

External links

Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Snowdon
1961 – present
David Armstrong-Jones


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