Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon: English photographer and film maker (1930 - 2017)
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Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon
English photographer and film maker

Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon

Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro English photographer and film maker
A.K.A. Antony Armstrong-Jones Snowdon Earl of, Earl of Snowdon Antony Armstro...
Was Photographer Politician
From United Kingdom
Field Arts Politics
Gender male
Birth 7 March 1930, Belgravia, City of Westminster, Greater London, London
Death 13 January 2017, Kensington, Kensington and Fairfield, Liverpool, Merseyside (aged 86 years)
Star sign Pisces
Mother: Anne6th Countess of Rosse
Father: Ronald Armstrong-Jones
Spouse: Princess MargaretCountess of Snowdon
Children: David Armstrong-JonesViscount LinleyLady Sarah Chatto
The details (from wikipedia)


Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, GCVO, RDI (7 March 1930 – 13 January 2017), commonly known as Lord Snowdon, was a British photographer and film maker. He was married to Princess Margaret, younger daughter of King George VI and the sister of Queen Elizabeth II.

Early life

Armstrong-Jones was the only son from the marriage of the barrister Ronald Armstrong-Jones (1899–1966) and his first wife Anne Messel (later Countess of Rosse). He was born at Eaton Terrace, Belgravia, in London.

Armstrong-Jones's paternal grandfather was Sir Robert Armstrong-Jones, the British psychiatrist and physician. His paternal grandmother was the daughter of Sir Owen Roberts, the Welsh educationalist. A maternal uncle was Oliver Messel (1904–1978) and a maternal great-grandfather was the Punch cartoonist Linley Sambourne (1844–1910), and his great-great-uncle Alfred Messel was a well-known Berlin architect.

Armstrong-Jones's parents separated when he was young. As a schoolboy he contracted polio while on holiday at their country home in Wales. For the entire six months that he was in Liverpool Royal Infirmary recuperating, his only family visits were from his sister Susan.


Armstrong-Jones was educated at two independent boarding schools: at Sandroyd School in Wiltshire from 1939 to 1943, and at Eton College, followed by Jesus College, Cambridge, where he studied architecture but failed his second-year exams. He coxed the winning Cambridge boat in the 1950 Boat Race.

Life and career

Armstrong-Jones in 1958, photographed by Carl Van Vechten

After university, Armstrong-Jones began a career as a photographer in fashion, design and theatre. He later became known for his royal studies, among which were the official portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh for their 1957 tour of Canada.

In the early 1960s, Armstrong-Jones became the artistic adviser of The Sunday Times Magazine, and by the 1970s had established himself as one of Britain's most respected photographers. Though his work included everything from fashion photography to documentary images of inner city life and the mentally ill, he is best known for his portraits of world notables (the National Portrait Gallery has more than 100 Snowdon portraits in its collection), many of them published in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and The Daily Telegraph magazine. His subjects include Barbara Cartland, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Blunt and J. R. R. Tolkien.

In 1968 he made his first documentary film Don't Count the Candles, for the US television station CBS, on the subject of aging. It won seven awards including two Emmys. This was followed by Love of a kind (1969), about the British and animals, Born to be small (1971) about people of restricted growth and Happy being happy (1973).

In October 1981 a group portrait by Snowdon of the British rock band Queen was used on the cover of their Greatest Hits album. In 2000 A Snowdon portrait of Freddie Mercury was used on the cover of his The Solo Collection box set.

In 2000, Armstrong-Jones was given a retrospective exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Photographs by Snowdon: A Retrospective, which travelled to the Yale Center for British Art the following year. More than 180 of his photographs were displayed in an exhibition that honoured what the museums called "a rounded career with sharp edges."

Snowdon was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society – he was awarded the Hood Medal of the Society in 1978 and the Progress Medal in 1985.

In 2006, Tomas Maier, creative director of the Italian fashion brand Bottega Veneta, sought Snowdon to photograph his Fall/Winter 2006 campaign.

Designs and inventions

Armstrong-Jones co-designed (in 1960–63, with Frank Newby and Cedric Price) the aviary of the London Zoo. He also had a major role in designing the physical arrangements for the 1969 investiture of his nephew Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.

He was granted a patent for a type of electric wheelchair in 1971.

Philanthropy and charity

In June 1980 Lord Snowdon started an award scheme for disabled students. This scheme, administered by the Snowdon Trust, provides grants and scholarships for students with disabilities.

Lord Snowdon served as a trustee of the National Fund for Research into Crippling Diseases, with the Polio Research Fund. He was president for England of the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981. He was provost of the Royal College of Art from 1995 to 2003.

Personal life

Snowdon was married twice. He was married first to Princess Margaret (1960 to 1978), and second to Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg (1978 to 2000).

First marriage

Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon with the United States president Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird at the White House on 17 November 1965

In February 1960, Snowdon, then known as Antony Armstrong-Jones, became engaged to the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, and they married on 6 May 1960 at Westminster Abbey. The couple made their home in apartments at Kensington Palace. He was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley, of Nymans in the County of Sussex on 6 October 1961. The couple had two children: David, 2nd Earl of Snowdon, born 3 November 1961, and Lady Sarah, born 1 May 1964.

The marriage began to collapse early and publicly. Various causes may have been behind the failure. On her side there was a penchant for late-night partying, on Snowdon's, an undisguised sexual profligacy. ("If it moves, he'll have it", was the comment of one close friend.) To most of the women who worked in his Pimlico Road studio, there seemed little doubt that Snowdon was gay or bisexual; he said about such rumours, "I didn't fall in love with boys — but a few men have been in love with me". In his 2009 memoir, Redeeming Features, British interior designer Nicholas Haslam claimed that he had an affair with Snowdon before the latter's marriage to Princess Margaret and that Snowdon had also been the lover of Tom Parr, another leading interior designer.

The break-up of Margaret and Snowdon lasted sixteen years, accompanied by drugs, alcohol and bizarre behaviour by both parties, such as Snowdon's leaving lists between the pages of books the princess read for her to find, of "things I hate about you". According to biographers Sarah Bradford and Anne de Courcy, one note read: "You look like a Jewish manicurist and I hate you". When high society palled, Snowdon would escape to a hideaway cottage with his lovers or on overseas photographic assignments; most people, including the Royal Family, took his side. Among Snowdon's lovers in the late 1960s was Lady Jacqueline Rufus-Isaacs, daughter of the 3rd Marquess of Reading. The marriage ended in divorce in 1978.

In 2004, The Telegraph reported that Snowdon had fathered an illegitimate daughter shortly before marrying Princess Margaret. Anne de Courcy reports the claim by Polly Fry, born in 1960, in the third week of Lord Snowdon's marriage to Princess Margaret, and brought up as a daughter of Jeremy Fry, inventor and member of the Fry's chocolate family, and his first wife, Camilla, that she was in fact Snowdon's daughter. Polly Fry asserted that a DNA test in 2004 proved Snowdon's paternity. Jeremy Fry rejected her claim, and Snowdon denied having taken a DNA test. However, four years later, he admitted that this account was true.

Second marriage

After his divorce from Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon married Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg (née Davies), the former wife of film director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, on 15 December 1978. The couple had one daughter: Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones, born 17 July 1979. She married Rodolphe von Hofmannsthal in 2006. Lady Frances works as a designer. She is a board member of the Snowdon Trust. From 1976 until 1996, Snowdon also had a mistress, journalist Ann Hills. She committed suicide on 31 December 1996.

The Earl and Countess of Snowdon separated in 2000 after the revelation that Snowdon, then aged 67, had fathered a son, Jasper William Oliver Cable-Alexander (born 30 April 1998), with Melanie Cable-Alexander, an editor at Country Life magazine.


Lord Snowdon died peacefully at his home in Kensington on 13 January 2017, aged 86.

His funeral took place on 20 January at St Baglan's Church in the remote village of Llanfaglan near Caernarfon. He was buried in the family plot in the churchyard.

Titles, styles, honours and arms


  • 7 March 1930 – 6 October 1961: Mr Antony Armstrong-Jones
  • 6 October 1961 – 13 January 2017: The Right Honourable The Earl of Snowdon
    • 16 November 1999 – 13 January 2017: The Right Honourable The Lord Armstrong-Jones

Life peerage

On 16 November 1999 Lord Snowdon was created Baron Armstrong-Jones, of Nymans in the County of West Sussex. This was a life peerage given to him so that he could keep his seat in the House of Lords after the hereditary peers had been excluded. An offer of a life peerage was made to all hereditary peers of the first creation (those for whom a peerage was originally created, as opposed to those who inherited a peerage from an ancestor) at that time.

The government of the day had expected Lord Snowdon to follow the example of members of the royal family and turn down his right to a life peerage. At the time, Labour MP Fraser Kemp said he was "shocked and surprised that someone who achieved their position in the House of Lords by virtue of marriage should accept a seat in the reformed Lords".

Lord Snowdon's maiden speech in the Lords was on the problems that the disabled suffered in everyday life. Snowdon retired from the House of Lords on 31 March 2016.

Awards and honours

  • GCVO: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, 7 July 1969
  • He was awarded the Royal Photographic Society's Progress Medal and an Honorary Fellowship in 1985.
  • In 1989, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) from the University of Bath.



Name Birth Marriage Issue
David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon 3 November 1961 8 October 1993 Serena Stanhope Charles Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley
Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones
Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones 1 May 1964 14 July 1994 Daniel Chatto Samuel Chatto
Arthur Chatto
Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones 17 July 1979 2 December 2006 Rodolphe von Hofmannsthal Rex von Hofmannsthal
Maud von Hofmannsthal
Sybil von Hofmannsthal
Jasper Cable-Alexander 30 April 1998



  • London. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1958. (A later edition has ISBN 0-297-16763-4.)
  • Assignments. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1972. ISBN 0-297-99582-0.
  • A View of Venice. [Ivrea]: Olivetti, c1972.
  • Personal View. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979. ISBN 0-297-77715-7.
  • Snowdon Tasmania Essay. Hobart: Ronald Banks, 1981. ISBN 0-85828-007-8. Text by Trevor Wilson.
  • Sittings, 1979–1983. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983. ISBN 0-297-78314-9.
  • Israel: A First View. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1986. ISBN 0-297-78860-4.
  • Stills 1984–1987. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987. ISBN 0-297-79185-0.
  • Serendipity: A Light-hearted Look at People, Places and Things. Brighton: Royal Pavilion, Art Gallery & Museums, 1989. ISBN 0-948723-10-6.
  • Public Appearances 1987–1991. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1991. ISBN 0-297-83122-4.
  • Hong Kong: Portraits of Power. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995. ISBN 0-316-22052-3. Text by Evelyn Huang and Lawrence Jeffery.
  • Wild Flowers. London: Pavilion, 1995. ISBN 1-85793-783-X.
  • Snowdon on Stage: With a Personal View of the British Theatre 1954–1996. London: Pavilion, 1996. ISBN 1-85793-919-0.
  • Wild Fruit. London: Bloomsbury, 1997. ISBN 0-7475-3700-3. Text by Penny David.
  • London: Sight Unseen. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999. ISBN 0-297-82490-2. Text by Gwyn Headley.
  • Photographs by Snowdon: A Retrospective. London: National Portrait Gallery, 2000. ISBN 1-85514-272-4.
  • Snowdon. London: Chris Beetles Gallery, 2006. ISBN 1-871136-99-7.
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