The Scandalous Photo of Princess Margaret That Inspired ‘The Crown’

The portrait was taken by her future husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones

princess margaret

Photo: Netflix

After Princess Margaret’s devastating heartbreak in The Crown‘s first season, she’s finally getting back in the romantic game. One of the steamiest moments in the show’s second season features the Princess (played by Vanessa Kirby) having her photo taken by her future husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones (played by Matthew Goode).

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princess margaret

Photo: Netflix

As Margaret sits in his photography studio, he slides her dress sleeves off her shoulders and asks her “Do you miss him?” referring to her lost love Peter Townsend (more on that here). She turns her head to whisper “sometimes,” and he snaps the pic.

“What do you think?” Tony asks, after developing the photo and hanging it up to dry. “The Margaret I’ve never seen before,” he says. Margaret responds, “No one’s ever seen before.”

In the show, that photo is then sent to reporters, and published in the paper, much to the Queen’s chagrin. Elizabeth worried that Margaret looked naked in the shot.

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princess margaret

Photo: Netflix

In reality, this is the 29th birthday portrait of Margaret, taken by Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1959. The Crown didn’t replicate it exactly—for example, the show’s image doesn’t include the necklace and earrings Margaret wore in real life—but all in all, the show captured the photo’s intimate nature:

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princess margaret

A portrait of Princess Margaret taken in 1959 by Antony Armstrong-Jones. Photo: Getty

While Armstrong-Jones would take another famous naked-looking photo of Princess Margaret, almost a decade later in 1967, Robert Lacey, the show’s history consultant (and author of the book The Crown, The Official Companion) confirmed to T&C that it was the 1959 portrait that inspired this story line in The Crown‘s second season.

In Snowden, her semi-authorized biography of Armstrong-Jones, Anne de Courcy’ even cites this portrait as something of a cover for Margaret’s relationship with Armstrong-Jones. “As the year drew on,” de Courcy writes, “another excellent excuse for visits was his commission to take the 29th-birthday portraits of the Princess.”

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US

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