Celebrities post nude or near-nude photos of themselves on the regular these days, but Princess Margaret beat the trend by half a century. The scandal of a “nude” portrait of Queen Elizabeth’s sister not only made a scintillating storyline for The Crown Season 2, but it actually happened in real life.
Here’s how it played out on the Netflix drama: Margaret (played by Vanessa Kirby) posed for a portrait session with her future husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones (played by Matthew Goode) behind the camera. He angles her away from his lens and slips her sleeves off her shoulders before getting her to open up about her ex-fiancée Peter Townsend. As she admits she “sometimes” misses Peter, Antony takes a photo, a photo that impresses them both once it’s developed. (“The Margaret I’ve never seen before,” Antony says on the show. “No one’s ever see before,” Margaret adds.)
Margaret and Antony. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
As in The Crown, Elizabeth was scandalized by the portrait once it hit newspaper pages in 1959, as Her Majesty was worried that people would think Margaret was naked. And yes, Margaret sent it to The Times of London herself, as PopSugar reports.
The real photo, which you can see on the Town & Country website, is a bit different: Margaret is facing the right instead of the left, she’s better illuminated, and her jewelry is on display. Robert Lacy, The Crown’s historical consultant, told Town & Country that’s the photo that inspired the storyline, though Antony took another near-naked photo of Margaret in 1967 after they’d been married for seven years.
This first photo, however, was Margaret’s 29th birthday portrait. In the biography Snowden, Anne de Courcy wrote that Antony thought the commission was “another excellent excuse for visits.” Hey, ain’t no shame in his game!