Lord Snowdon the Royal photographer who was married to Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II, from 1960 to 1978 has died age 87. Snowdon was born Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones on March 7, 1930, in London. In 1960, he married Prince Margaret after a whirlwind romance. During the 1960s, he worked as the picture editor of The Sunday Times magazine. The couple divorced in 1978.
“It’s no good saying ‘hold it’ for a moment in real life.” —Lord Snowdon
Lord Snowdon contracted polio at age 16. During his recuperation, his mother gave him a camera to help him pass the time. Six months later, he emerged from his recovery with a shortened and withered leg. His ongoing struggle to adapt to his stigmatised condition would later inspire his inexhaustible dedication to organisations that advocate for the disabled. His introduction to photography would also inform his future.
Creativity ran in Lord Snowdon’s family, and he was no exception. His great-grandfather was famed Punch magazine cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, and two of his uncles were noted architects. In his early twenties, Lord Snowdon failed his exams at Cambridge University and left school to become a photographer. At first, Lord Snowdon’s photography focused almost exclusively on design, fashion and theater. Soon, Lord Snowdon managed to establish himself as a successful portraitist through his photos of British royals, including Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1957. In the 1960s, Lord Snowdon landed a job as the picture editor of The Sunday Times magazine. By the 1970s, his work had placed him among England’s most well-respected photographers.
Snowden and Princess Margaret had two children, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto. His second wife, Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, from whom he split in 2000, he had a daughter, Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones. He also had a son, Jasper, with the journalist Melanie Cable-Alexander.
Snowdon was influential in bringing an informal approach to royal portraiture. His post-war fashion photographs were credited for ‘enlivening’ Vogue, for which he has been working for over six decades. He is also celebrated for his pioneering photo essays during nearly thirty years at The Sunday Times Magazine (from 1962 to 1990), documenting the arts and social issues.
Snowden’s portraits are in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, they included David Bowie, Twiggy, Graham Greene, Julie Christie and Terence Stamp. In 2014 the then director, Sandy Nairne, praised his work as “wonderful portrait images of some of the most creative and engaging contributors to Britain in the second half of the 20th century”.
Top Photo: Photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon), Los Angeles, 1980s. Photo by Chris Gulker Creative Commons