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May 6, 1960 – Royal Wedding – Princess Margaret – Anthony Armstrong-Jones – CBS Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
May 6, 1960 – For all the tension brought on by the latest snag in East-West relations and the infamous U2 Spy plane incident, a fairy-tale story of romance in England between Princess Margaret and commoner Anthony Armstrong-Jones – the first such union in almost 400 years.
Princess Margaret once again made royal history on her wedding day by having the first ever royal wedding to be televised for the world to watch. On May 6, 1960, the Princess rode from Clarence House to Westminster Abbey in the Glass Coach (as is tradition) with her brother-in-law Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Since her father, King George VI, passed away years earlier, Prince Phillip would walk Margaret down the aisle and give her away.
More than 2,000 people gathered to watch the Princess say “I do” with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, performing the ceremony. After officially becoming husband and wife, Armstrong-Jones was bestowed with the title of Lord Snowdon.
Referred to as “the simplest royal wedding gown in history” by Life at the time, Princess Margaret’s wedding dress may have seemed simple, but it has stood the test of time and set trends for years to come.
Created by Norman Hartnell, who designed Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown 13 years earlier, the silk organza gown was rumored to have been fitted to showcase Princess Margaret’s figure—hence the lack of embellishment. Featuring long sleeves, a v-neckline (a bit suggestive for the time), fitted waist and a skirt so full that it reportedly required 30 meters fo fabric. Princess Margaret’s wedding dress is on display at Kensington Palace as part of an exhibit on royal wedding dresses.
Her husband-to-be was a photographer and also a commoner — two things that made him a unique addition to the royal family tree.
Reading from the official program for the event, CBC reporter Don Gordon noted the groom’s biography included a statement “conceding the rather unusual nature of this royal marriage.”
“The alliance of an artist with the Royal Family is something new in its modern history, an enrichment of its capacity to represent every facet of life in the Commonwealth,” he quoted.
Only a few years before, the details of the princess’s quashed romance with the divorced Peter Townsend had been fodder for newspaper headlines.
The union of Princess Margaret and her groom was the first royal wedding to be televised, but there was an expectation that huge crowds would turn out to see the procession to and from Westminster Abbey.
The Globe and Mail reported on May 3, 1960, that “more than 6,000 policemen” would be stationed along Princess Margaret’s wedding route for crowd control.
There were another 800 to be assigned to direct traffic that morning.
Grandstands were being erected, reported Gordon, to “accommodate some of the thousands of spectators expected — for a price though.”
A company representative told him that the stand in front Westminster Abbey would hold approximately 2,000 spectators.
Here is a half-hour capsule of the wedding from CBS Radio on May 6, 1960.