‘Margaret: The Rebel Princess’ Is an Engrossing and Gossipy Must-See Documentary

3019 Princess Margaret on Sofa
Courtesy of PBS

“Bad girls have all the fun” is a maxim that applies even, or possibly especially, to Britain’s royal family, as we see in this engrossing and gossipy two-part documentary on the scandalous peaks of Princess Margaret’s very public life.

Fans of The Crown will groove to the genuine article: Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister enjoyed the pomp, if not the circumstances, of being a royal, and reflected the changing mores of 1960s and ’70s culture with her choices in fashion, pastimes (motorcycle riding! clubbing!) and, naturally, men.

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From Elizabeth to Prince Charles, these actors certainly look the part.

Journalists, biographers and chatty former ladies-in-waiting recall Margaret as, according to one, “a casualty of the system.” Her shocking first crush was royal aide Peter Townsend, not only married but considered “staff,” and her eventual husband, Lord Snowdon, Antony Armstrong-Jones, was notoriously unfaithful — hence, a rare royal divorce.

A tantalizing 1964 home-movie clip of Margaret horsing around with actor Peter Sellers suggests that rebellion on her social scale obviously had its perks.

Margaret: The Rebel Princess, Documentary Premiere, Sunday, February 10, 10/9c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)