Lord Snowdon, photographer of British high society, dies aged 86

Princess Margaret's former husband worked for Vogue and his pictures were shown at the National Portrait Gallery


Lord Snowdon, the British photographer who was married to Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, died on 13 January at the age of 86.

Antony Armstrong-Jones established himself early in his career as a society, fashion, design and theatre photographer. Of solid upper-middle-class stock (his father was a barrister), Armstrong-Jones attended Eton and Jesus College, Cambridge, where he failed to take his degree. His career as a society portraitist flourished—in 1957 he made the official portraits of The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh—and he moved in the same upper-class bohemian circles where he met the party-loving princess. In 1960 the couple were married and, as he was a commoner, he was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley.

Contrary to expectations, he continued to pursue his career and by the 1970s became a respected photographer of a range of subjects, from inner-city life and the mentally ill to portraits of the Great and the Good (of which the National Portrait Gallery has more than 100 examples). He also continued to pursue his sexual conquests of women and a few men, which caused the marriage to fall apart. Following a very public deterioration, the marriage was dissolved in 1978.

He was photographer for The Sunday Times (1962-90), Vogue (from 1964) and the Telegraph Magazine (since 1990). In 1995 he succeeded the Earl of Gowrie as Provost of the Royal College of Art in London. The National Portrait Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, presented an exhibition in 2001 of more than 180 of his photographs. He and Princess Margaret had two children, one of whom, David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley, a cabinetmaker and the chairman of Christie’s UK, succeeds his father.


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