Thankfully, but regrettably, the worst part of having COVID-19 for me was having to miss my beloved sister’s bridal shower in March. While we are eight years apart, my sister and I have grown ever closer as we get older and the age gap lessens. From being the wiser older sister with advice on how to properly sterilize a belly button piercing to now discussing the joys of successfully grieving property taxes on Long Island, my sister and I have bonded through a lifetime of milestones.
In watching Netflix’s “Elizabeth and Margaret: Love and Loyalty,” about the most famous pair of sisters in the 20th century, I was reminded of my own love for my little sister, whom I still affectionately call “kiddo,” despite her 28 years of age.
Born as “secondary” royals, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were considered trendsetters from birth, with even the most mundane of clothing (such as a yellow overcoat) being demanded not just in England but throughout the world, when they donned it in carefully carefree curated films of the sisters playing at Scottish estates.
Treated as equals since they were the daughters of the King’s second son, the Duke of York, they were almost twin-like in public viewing, despite the four-year age gap.
All of this, of course, changed in December of 1936 when Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret’s uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the glorious British throne to marry American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, and the elder sister instantly became “heiress presumptive.”
While not mentioned in this documentary, it is widely reported that after hearing the news that she would one day become Queen, Margaret remarked, “Poor you,” to Elizabeth.
The documentary goes on to describe a lifetime of devotion from Margaret to serve her sister and the Crown, most notably giving up the man largely considered the love of her life, Group Capt. Peter Townsend, a married, and eventually divorced, servant to the Royal family, who as equerry was particularly close to their father, George VI.
For a more sumptuous and dishy look at the Margaret/Townsend affair, check out “The Crown,” Season 1, where the painful eventual breakup is sprawled out as a tipping point for the sisters’ relationship.
Not often discussed but joyfully celebrated in this documentary is the friendship of Princess Margaret with Prince Philip, as she was often set to accompany Princess Elizabeth in her early days of courtship with the former Greek prince turned Royal Navy officer,
reminiscent of the British public’s joy in seeing Prince William and Kate with Prince Harry as a fun and loving trio.
Years ago, my sister used to accompany my husband and me on shopping trips for home goods at places like Country Junque in Bayport, where she once sat on the floor of our Nissan Sentra with an imposing secretary desk on the seat behind her.
My parents were actually able to get my soon-to-be brother-in-law and me appointments at the Javits Center on the same day for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and spent an afternoon driving into the city and going through what he described as “the scene from ‘Divergent’” for the inoculation, bonding over our mutual love and adoration for my gorgeous and loving sister, who never gains weight despite eating pasta and mashed potatoes in one sitting.
In her actual marriage, Princess Margaret, who was scandalously near 30 when she finally married society photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones, the eventual Earl of Snowdon, would again show her devotion to her sister by staying in what was described as a tempestuous and viciously psychologically abusive relationship. In “The Crown’s” portrayal of the marriage, Tony and Margaret have a similar warring existence to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, with Tony referring to Margaret as “having a Jewish manicurist’s face” and other characterizations of the royal being dumpy or working-class in appearance.
At less than two hours, “Elizabeth and Margaret” is not even a mini-binge, but one worth watching if you have the beauty of sisterhood in your life.