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Culture

The Passing of a Princess

Princess Margaret, the sister of England's Queen Elizabeth died Saturday morning at the age of 71.

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"She had a turbulent life"

Princess Margaret, the Queen of England’s sister and one of the more colorful and troubled members of the Royal household died in her sleep Saturday morning, according to Buckingham Palace.

The 71-year-old princess, who had withdrawn out of the public spotlight in recent years, died at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, according to the statement.

"I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Princess Margaret," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is visiting Africa. "My thoughts are with the Queen Mother, and the rest of the Royal Family at this moment."

Margaret had been in poor health for quite some time, suffering a series of strokes beginning in 1998. Though she continued to perform her royal duties and was an avid supporter of the arts and organizations fighting child cruelty, her poor health caused her to cede the spotlight to the younger Royals.

Stormed high society

Born in Scotland to the Duke and Duchess of York, she became princess along with her sister Elizabeth when Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936. She stormed through London’s high society in the early 1950s, earning praise for her fashion and art sense.

At 23, she fell in love with a man she could never have. Peter Townsend, a war pilot and Royal household group captain, had been divorced, a no-no for the Church of England and political establishment, who ruled the pairing inappropriate.

When she had the option of marrying him two years later in 1955, at age 25, and giving up her royal title, she declined. The pair remained friends.

Unlucky in love

She eventually wed in 1960 to a well-connected photographer but divorced him after having two children in 1976. The separation and subsequent divorce sent shock waves through England. At the time, domestic crises in the Royal household were kept private.

She dealt with the divorce by gradually withdrawing from her duties as princess. In recent years, she became more active, becoming an ardent supporter of the Royal Ballet and serving as president National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

In 1998, she suffered the first of what became a series of strokes. The Queen Mother’s 101st birthday in August was her last public appearance.

"She had a turbulent life, of course, but at the close of her life – in the past decade she had somehow come into port," Lord St. John of Fawsley, a close friend, told the BBC. "She was not at all unhappy. She loved her royal duties and she did them tremendously professionally."

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