It Seems Like Yesterday

by Harry Benson

Margaret Tony Beach 1966 lg

The engagement announcement of HRH Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones on February 26, 1960, took Fleet Street by surprise. Even gossip columnists with the greatest contacts were taken aback. It was only a few weeks earlier that Tony’s father, Ronald Armstrong-Jones, had married. When the writer Jeremy Banks and I had arrived at that reception, Tony had slipped out a side door. We thought that very strange but, in retrospect, I think Margaret might have been with him.

The British press thought Tony might be helpful in getting a photograph of his engagement because he had gotten his start as a photographer at Lord Beaverbrook’s Daily Express, but no.

I always remember going to Tony’s father’s home, a lovely mews house in Belgravia, at the time of the engagement announcement. I blinked when he said to Jeremy and me, “You know, the marriage won’t last,” which was an astounding thing to say when the couple had yet to be married. When asked why, Tony’s father replied, “Their personalities are going to clash.” That quote gave our paper a scoop with the headline, “Tony’s father says the marriage won’t last!”

The wedding itself, which took place on May 6, 1960, was televised for the world to see. And as Tony’s father predicted, the couple eventually divorced, in 1978.

The photograph here was taken in 1966 in Nassau, when the couple was on holiday some years into their marriage. I liked the mod clothes, the hairdo, and the boxy handbag Margaret was carrying. To me, it epitomizes the look of the Sixties.