Not Enjoying Herself

Jenny Diski

  • Princess Margaret: A Life Unravelled by Tim Heald
    Weidenfeld, 346 pp, £20.00, July 2007, ISBN 978 0 297 84820 2

And now for the other princess: the one who failed to stop all the clocks in Kensington Palace and Mustique, and grew old.[1] In doing so she became sick, fat, grumpy, drunk and unloved. This, you might think, is the fate of many people who leave dying to their later years. But in a princess these flaws, if not the necessary concomitants of age then surely an entitlement of age, are particularly disappointing. We like our princesses young and adorable, and if possible witty and talented, though we’ve had to settle for the former. While she was young, Margaret Rose was the apple of her father’s eye, enchanting to all who met her, talented, witty, artistic, they said – and then one day she was middle-aged, frumpy, snobbish, self-centred, a raddled old gin tippler and a bore. So much apparent promise, so little follow through.

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[1] Jenny Diski’s review of Tina Brown and Sarah Bradford’s books on Princess Diana appeared in the last issue of the LRB.

[2] Gentleman cricket commentator.

[3] English cricketer and footballer.

[4] Sugary romantic novelist and honey taker.

[5] Royal consort.