Follow Vogue Arabia

39 Rare Pictures of Royal Sisters Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret


Photo: Getty

“Lilibet is my pride. Margaret is my joy,” King George VI once said of his two daughters, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose. It ended up being a symbolic remark for the relationship the royal sisters held with society as a whole: Elizabeth was stoic and steadfast as the Queen of England, while Margaret remained mercurial and fabulous as she donned Dior dresses while partying around the world. “Elizabeth was organized, Margaret artistic; Elizabeth discreet, Margaret attention-seeking; Elizabeth dutiful, Margaret disobedient; Elizabeth disciplined, Margaret wild,” Craig Brown recalled in Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret.

Colorful stories about their polarity dotted their childhood: take one Christmas pantomime during wartime at Windsor Castle, where Elizabeth fretted over the ticket price of seven and sixpence. ”No one will pay that to look at us!” the future queen said to her sister, according to Brown. “Nonsense. They’ll pay anything to see us,” Margaret replied.

Of course, their relationship wasn’t without its troubles. Tensions are inevitable between all siblings—especially when the older is a ruling monarch and the younger, her subject. Queen Elizabeth legally couldn’t approve of Margaret’s relationship with the older, divorced Peter Townsend due to her position as the head of the Church of England. Meanwhile, Margaret was said to struggle with her dropping order in the line of succession—and the decreased visibility that came with it. (“The absence of a role was her tragedy, ” wrote Hugo Vickers of The Independent.) Her frustration showed: “On one occasion Margaret slams into the Queen’s drawing room at Windsor Castle whilst the Prime Minister was there; she walks in and, in addressing her, says, “If you weren’t Queen, nobody would talk to you,” Andrew Morton, author of Elizabeth and Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisterstold Vogue. “You see this jealousy and you also see this loyalty that Margaret had towards Elizabeth.”

Yet, despite their assigned places in history, their devotion to each other never wavered. Princess Margaret had a telephone with a direct line to her sister at Buckingham Palace. They called each other every day to gossip and laugh, according to friend Reinaldo Herrera. “They had a love, friendship, and conspiracy that were impressive to behold,” he wrote in Vanity Fair. And when Princess Margaret passed away in 2002, Queen Elizabeth openly cried at her funeral—one of the only times the monarch has shown emotion in a public setting. “The queen lost her most intimate companion,” Herrera wrote. “Never explaining anything to the world—what she feels, or why she does what she does—is part of her greatness. But for a few minutes that day, as she stood by the steps of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, watching her sister’s coffin being borne away, her eyes betrayed her.”

Below, a complicated yet loving sisterhood, in photos.


Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in the early 1930s. Photo: Getty


Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in front of their playhouse in 1933. Photo: Getty


Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret at a railroad station with one of the family’s corgis in 1935. Photo: Getty


The Queen Mother with Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth standing in the grounds of the Royal Lodge in Windsor in England circa June 1936. Photo: Getty


King George VI with the Queen Mother (then Queen Elizabeth) and his daughters Princess Margaret, left, and Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II), on Coronation Day, 1937. Photo: Getty


The princesses go swimming together in 1939. Photo: Getty


Princess Margaret and the-then Princess Elizabeth enjoy a trip to the zoo in May, 1939. Photo: Getty


Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose reading by a window with their corgi, Jane, in 1940. Photo: Getty


Princess Elizabeth, 14, and Princess Margaret, 9, pose together for the heiress presumptive’s birthday in April 1940. Photo: Getty


Princess Elizabeth delivers a broadcast addressed to the United Kingdom’s children during wartime in 1940. Photo: Getty


Princess Elizabeth dressed as Prince Charming with Princess Margaret as Cinderella during a royal pantomime at Windsor Castle in 1941. Photo: Getty


The princesses sunbathe at Windsor Castle in 1941. Photo: Getty


Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret wearing summer dresses, circa 1942. Photo: Getty


The sisters don matching outfits in 1942. Photo: Getty


Elizabeth, Margaret, and one of their lhaso apso dogs in 1942. Photo: Getty


Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in uniform, 1943. Photo: Getty


Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret both wearing hats on the grounds of Windsor Castle in 1944. Photo: Getty


Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret both dressed in elaborate gowns, pictured during a royal pantomime production of ‘Old Mother Red Riding Boots’ at Windsor Castle in 1944. Photo: Getty


The princesses in 1946. Photo: Getty


1946: From left to right, Pamela Mountbatten, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth stand outside Romsey Abbey, Hampshire in their bridesmaids’ dresses after attending the wedding of Captain Lord Brabourne and Patricia Mountbatten in 1946. Photo: Getty


Princess Elizabeth watches Princess Margaret play a Brahms Waltz on the piano in the school room at Buckingham Palace in 1946. Photo: Getty


In the Buckingham Palace Library, 1946. Photo: Getty


Princess Margaret poses with the engaged Princess Elizabeth and Princess Philip at Buckingham Palace in September 1947. Photo: Getty


Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) attend a memorial unveiling for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1948. Photo: Getty


The royal family, including Princess Margaret, on Queen Elizabeth’s coronation day in 1953. Photo: Getty


Elizabeth, Margaret, and Prince Philip at the christening of Princess Anne in 1950. Photo: Getty


Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret arrive at London’s Empire Theater in 1956—Margaret walking behind Elizabeth. Photo: Getty


The sisters at Tivoli Theater. Photo: Getty


Queen Elizabeth coming back from Balmoral with her children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, as well as Princess Margaret, in 1952. Photo: Getty


Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret watch the Badminton Horse Trials in 1975. Photo: Getty


Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret attend the Epsom Derby in 1979. Photo: Getty


Princess Margaret, Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth at Trooping the Colour in 1989. Photo: Getty


The Queen Mother With Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret at Badminton. Photo: Getty


The Queen and Princess Margaret attend a concert at the Royal College of Music. Photo: Getty


Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret on Christmas Day in Sandringham. Photo: Getty


Queen Elizabeth visits Princess Margaret on the island of Mustique in 1977. Photo: Getty


Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret attend a charity concert at St. James’s Palace. Photo: Getty


Margaret and Elizabeth both wear yellow at the Derby Races in 1988. Photo: Getty


Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret attend a wedding in 1998. Photo: Getty

Originally published on 

View All
Vogue Collection