Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Snowdon
Antony Armstrong-Jones 1965 (cropped).jpg
Armstrong-Jones in 1965
Member of the House of Lords
In office
16 November 1999 – 31 March 2016
as Baron Armstrong-Jones
In office
6 October 1961 – 11 November 1999
as Earl of Snowdon
Personal details
Born Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones
(1930-03-07)7 March 1930
Belgravia, London
Died 13 January 2017(2017-01-13) (aged 86)
Kensington, London
Resting place St Baglan's Church, Llanfaglan
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Princess Margaret
(m. 1960; div. 1978)

Lucy Lindsay-Hogg
(m. 1978; div. 2000)
Children Polly Fry
David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon
Lady Sarah Chatto
Lady Frances von Hofmannsthal
Jasper Cable-Alexander
Parents Ronald Armstrong-Jones
Anne Messel
Alma mater Jesus College, Cambridge
Occupation Photographer
Known for Former husband of The Princess Margaret, former brother-in-law of Elizabeth II

Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, GCVO, RDI (7 March 1930 – 13 January 2017), commonly known as Lord Snowdon, was a British photographer and film maker. He was married to Princess Margaret, younger daughter of King George VI and the sister of Queen Elizabeth II.

Early life[edit]

Armstrong-Jones was the only son from the marriage of the barrister Ronald Armstrong-Jones (1899–1966) and his first wife Anne Messel (later Countess of Rosse).[1] He was born at Eaton Terrace, Belgravia, in London.[2]

Armstrong-Jones's paternal grandfather was Sir Robert Armstrong-Jones, the British psychiatrist and physician.[3] His paternal grandmother was the daughter of Sir Owen Roberts, the Welsh educationalist.[4] A maternal uncle was Oliver Messel (1904–1978) and a maternal great-grandfather was the Punch cartoonist Linley Sambourne (1844–1910), and his great-great-uncle Alfred Messel was a well-known Berlin architect.[5]

Armstrong-Jones's parents separated when he was young and as a schoolboy he contracted polio while on holiday at their country home in Wales. For the entire six months that he was in Liverpool Royal Infirmary recuperating, his only family visits were from his sister Susan.[6]


Armstrong-Jones was educated at two independent boarding schools: at Sandroyd School in Wiltshire from 1939 to 1943,[7] and at Eton College, followed by Jesus College, Cambridge, where he studied architecture but failed his second-year exams.[8] He coxed the winning Cambridge boat in the 1950 Boat Race.[9]

Life and career[edit]

Armstrong-Jones in 1958, photographed by Carl Van Vechten

After university, Armstrong-Jones began a career as a photographer in fashion, design and theatre. He later became known for his royal studies, among which were the official portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh for their 1957 tour of Canada.[10]

In the early 1960s, Armstrong-Jones became the artistic adviser of The Sunday Times Magazine, and by the 1970s had established himself as one of Britain's most respected photographers. Though his work included everything from fashion photography to documentary 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 Snowdon portraits in its collection), many of them published in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and The Daily Telegraph magazine. His subjects include Barbara Cartland, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Blunt and J. R. R. Tolkien.[11][12]

In 1968 he made his first documentary film Don't Count the Candles,[13] for the US television station CBS, on the subject of aging. It won seven awards[14] including two Emmys.[15][16] This was followed by Love of a kind (1969), about the British and animals,[17] Born to be small (1971) about people of restricted growth[18] and Happy being happy (1973).[19]

In 2000, Armstrong-Jones was given a retrospective exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Photographs by Snowdon: A Retrospective,[20] which travelled to the Yale Center for British Art the following year.[21] More than 180 of his photographs were displayed in an exhibition that honoured what the museums called "a rounded career with sharp edges."[21]

Snowdon was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society – he was awarded the Hood Medal of the Society in 1978 and the Progress Medal in 1985.[22][23]

In 2006, Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta, sought Snowdon to photograph his Fall/Winter 2006 campaign.[24]

Designs and inventions[edit]

Armstrong-Jones co-designed (in 1960–63, with Frank Newby and Cedric Price) the aviary of the London Zoo. He also had a major role in designing the physical arrangements for the 1969 investiture of his nephew Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.[25]

He was granted a patent for a type of electric wheelchair in 1971.[26]

Philanthropy and charity[edit]

In June 1980 Lord Snowdon started an award scheme for disabled students.[27] This scheme, administered by the Snowdon Trust, provides grants and scholarships for students with disabilities. [28] Its trustees include the Rt Hon Baroness Masham of Ilton, Sir John Hannam, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Dr Renny Leach (Chairman), Andrew Farquhar, his daughter Lady Frances von Hofmannsthal, Sidney L Hunt, Anji Hunter, Dr Richard Lansdown, Baron (Colin) Low of Dalston, Dr Jane McLarty, Dan Norris, Dr Wendy Piatt, Simon Preece, and John Rous Milligan.

Lord Snowdon served as a trustee of the National Fund for Research into Crippling Diseases, with the Polio Research Fund. He was president for England of the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981.[27]

He was provost of the Royal College of Art from 1995 to 2003.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Snowdon was married twice. He was married first to Princess Margaret (1960 to 1978), and second to Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg (1978 to 2000).[30]

First marriage[edit]

Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon with the United States president Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird at the White House on 17 November 1965

In February 1960, Snowdon, then 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.[31] The couple had two children: David, 2nd Earl of Snowdon, born 3 November 1961, and Lady Sarah, born 1 May 1964.[32]

The marriage began to collapse early and publicly. Various causes may have been behind the failure. On her 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 summary of one close friend.)[33] To most of the women who worked in his Pimlico Road studio, there seemed little doubt that Snowdon was gay or bisexual; to which he himself responded, "I didn't fall in love with boys — but a few men have been in love with me".[33] In his 2009 memoir, Redeeming Features, British interior designer Nicholas Haslam claimed 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 designer, Tom Parr.[34]

Their break-up lasted sixteen years, accompanied by drugs, alcohol and bizarre behaviour by both parties, such as Snowdon's leaving lists between the pages of books the princess read for her to find, of "things I hate about you".[33] According to biographers Sarah Bradford and Anne de Courcy, one note read: "You look like a Jewish manicurist and I hate you".[33][35] 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.[33] Among Snowdon's lovers in the late 1960s was Lady Jacqueline Rufus-Isaacs, daughter of the 3rd Marquess of Reading.[36]

The marriage ended in divorce in 1978.[32]

In 2004, it was claimed that Snowdon fathered a daughter shortly before marrying Princess Margaret.[37] Anne de Courcy reports the claim by Polly Fry, born in 1960, in the third week of Lord Snowdon's marriage to Princess Margaret, and brought up as a daughter of Jeremy Fry, inventor and member of the Fry's chocolate family, and his first wife, Camilla, that she was in fact Snowdon's daughter.[38] Polly Fry asserted that a DNA test in 2004 proved Snowdon's paternity. Jeremy Fry rejected her claim, and Snowdon denied having taken a DNA test. However, four years later, he admitted it was true.[37][39]

Second marriage[edit]

After his divorce from Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon married Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg (née Davies), the former wife of film director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, on 15 December 1978. The couple had one daughter: Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones, born 17 July 1979 who married Rodolphe von Hofmannsthal in 2006. Lady Frances works as a designer. She is a board member of the Snowdon Trust. [40]

During the period from 1976 until 1996, Snowdon also had a mistress, the journalist Ann Hills. She committed suicide on 31 December 1996.[36]

The Earl and Countess of Snowdon separated in 2000 after the revelation that Snowdon, at the age of 67, had fathered a son, Jasper William Oliver Cable-Alexander (born 30 April 1998), with Melanie Cable-Alexander, an editor at Country Life magazine.[41][42]


Lord Snowdon died peacefully at his home in Kensington on 13 January 2017, aged 86.[43]

His funeral took place on 20 January at St Baglan's Church in the remote village of Llanfaglan near Caernarfon. He was buried in the family plot in the churchyard.[44]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]


  • 7 March 1930 – 6 October 1961: Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones
  • 6 October 1961 – 13 January 2017: The Right Honourable The Earl of Snowdon, Viscount Linley
    • 16 November 1999 – 13 January 2017: The Right Honourable The Earl of Snowdon, Viscount Linley, Baron Armstrong-Jones

Life peerage[edit]

On 16 November 1999 Lord Snowdon was created Baron Armstrong-Jones, of Nymans in the County of West Sussex.[45] This was a life peerage given to 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 (those for whom a peerage was originally created, as opposed to those who inherited a peerage from an ancestor) at that time.[46]

The government of the day had expected Lord Snowdon to follow the example of members of the royal family and turn down his right to a life peerage. At the time, Labour MP Fraser Kemp said he was "shocked and surprised that someone who achieved their position in the House of Lords by virtue of marriage should accept a seat in the reformed Lords".[46]

Lord Snowdon's maiden speech in the Lords was on the problems that the disabled suffered in everyday life.[27]

Snowdon retired from the House of Lords on 31 March 2016.[47]

Awards and honours[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How Jewish is Lord Snowdon?". The Jewish Chronicle. 23 September 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Marco, Neil. "An Historic Home". Retrieved 8 June 2015. In 1899 Sir Robert Jones, who subsequently altered his name to Armstrong-Jones, had a son named Ronald. The family was, at that time, living in the London area and retained Plas Dinas as their country home. Sir Ronald Jones married Anne, and the marriage produced a son, Antony, who in 1961 [sic] married HRH Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister. 
  4. ^ "Nobility in Tony's Background". Chicago Tribune 28 April 1960. Retrieved 1 January 2015. ...Margaret was the daughter of Sir Owen Roberts 
  5. ^ "The Sambourne family". Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "Snowdon: the Biography" by Anne de Courcy, reviewed by Duncan Fallowell. The Daily Telegraph. 20 June 2008.
  7. ^ Sandroyd – Old Sandroydians – 1939–1943 The Earl of Snowdon (A Armstrong-Jones). Sandroyd School. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  8. ^ "Lord Snowdon dies aged 86". BBC News. January 13, 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  9. ^ British Rowing Almanack 1950.
  10. ^ "Obituary: Lord Snowdon". BBC News. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  11. ^ "J. R. R. Tolkien". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  12. ^ "Anthony Blunt". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  13. ^ "Don't Count the Candles (1968)". 
  14. ^ "Obituary: Lord Snowdon". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Lord Snowdon". 
  16. ^ "1969 Press Photo Emmy Award Winners Lord Snowdon William McClure" (News photo). UPI. 1969-06-09. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  17. ^ "Love of a Kind". BFI. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  18. ^ Barnham, Glen (2009-09-17). "Sadie Corré obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  19. ^ Robertson, Nan (1979-11-10). "A Life in Pictures: Lord Snowdon's 30 Years as a Photojournalist". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  20. ^ "Photographs by Snowdon: A Retrospective". Past exhibition archive. National Portrait Gallery. 2000. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  21. ^ a b "Photographs by Snowdon: A Retrospective". Yale University. Yale Center for British Art. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  22. ^ Hood Medal
  23. ^ Progress Medal
  24. ^ "BOTTEGA VENETA's Fall campaign, a marketing lesson for luxury brands - CPP-LUXURY". CPP-LUXURY. 2011-08-03. Retrieved 2017-01-18. 
  25. ^ Royal, by Robert Lacey, 2002.
  26. ^ GB patent 1230619, A.C.R. Armstrong-Jones. Earl of Snowdon, "Means for Providing Mobility for Physically Handicapped Persons", issued 5 May 1971 
  27. ^ a b c "Obituary: Earl of Snowdon". The Times. 
  28. ^ "The Snowdon Trust". 
  29. ^ "Lord Snowdon obituary". The Guardian. 13 January 2017. 
  30. ^ Alderson, Andrew (31 May 2008). "Lord Snowdon, his women, and his love child". The Daily Telegraph. 
  31. ^ "no. 42481". The London Gazette. 6 October 1961. p. 7199. 
  32. ^ a b "1976: Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon to split". BBC News. Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  33. ^ a b c d e "Snowdon: the Biography" by Anne de Courcy, reviewed by Duncan Fallowell, The Daily Telegraph, 20 June 2008.
  34. ^ Churcher, Sharon; Johnson, Angella (13 September 2009). "Lord Snowdon and I were lovers, says society designer Nicky Haslam". Daily Mail. London. 
  35. ^ Bradford, Sarah (1996). Elizabeth. London: William Heinemann. 
  36. ^ a b Lord Snowdon, his women, and his love child. Telegraph (31 May 2008). Retrieved 13 June 2012
  37. ^ a b Andy Bloxham, Andy (31 May 2008). "Lord Snowdon fathered a secret love child just months before marrying Princess Margaret". Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
  38. ^ Conti, Samantha (21 November 2008). "The Tony Earl". Women's Wear Daily. p. 10.
  39. ^ Sebastian Shakespeare (November 2016)"However, four years later, he admitted it was true". Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  40. ^ "Our board". The Snowdon Trust. 
  41. ^ Bearn, Emily (16 April 2003). "Still playing Peter Pan". The Daily Telegraph. 
  42. ^ Owens, Mitchell (27 July 1999). "Noticed: Blood Tells. So Does Burke's". The New York Times.
  43. ^ "Lord Snowdon dies aged 86". BBC News. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  44. ^ Crump, Eryl (20 January 2017). "Lord Snowdon laid to rest at family service near Caernarfon". Retrieved 20 January 2017. 
  45. ^ "no. 55672". The London Gazette. 19 November 1999. p. 12349. 
  46. ^ a b Watt, Nicholas (3 November 1999). "Dismay as Snowdon stays in Lords". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2015. 
  47. ^ "Earl of Snowdon". 
  48. ^ "(Supplement) no. 44888". The London Gazette. 3 July 1969. p. 6967. 
  49. ^ "Progress Medal". The Royal Photographic Society. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  50. ^ "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". University of Bath. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  51. ^ Maclagan, Michael; Louda, Jiří (1999). Line of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. London: Little, Brown & Co. p. 31. ISBN 1-85605-469-1. 
  52. ^ a b c d e Kidd, Charles; Williamson, David, eds. (2003). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. London: Debrett's Peerage Limited. p. 1490. 


External links[edit]

Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Snowdon
Member of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
David Armstrong-Jones
New creation Baron Armstrong-Jones
Member of the House of Lords
No successor
(life peerage)