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May 6, 1960 – A Royal Wedding – Princess Margaret – Anthony Armstrong-Jones. Click on the snippet for a sample.

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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 a
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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.

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newspaper put Princess Margaret's picture on the front page today and a similar sized picture of Premier Khrushchev on the back said certainly Khrushchev's new threats are more important than Princess Margaret. Yes, but said the danish paper, we're optimists, we relegate Khrushchev to the back page and say this is Margaret day. And so it was in London today and throughout much of Western Europe, a British and European radio and TV hookup brought the Westminster Abbey ceremony to an audience estimated at 300 million, perhaps the largest in history and certainly the greatest number to witness any wedding Before. A throng of more than 2000 invited guests ranging from Queen Elizabeth II to an old lady who used to be at the Armstrong Joneses Cook, The daughter of a British King, was married for the first time in four centuries to an untitled commoner. The 30 year old bride had a moment of stage fright in the midst of the ceremony all went smoothly amidst the medieval splendor of the 900 year old Westminster Abbey, until Princess Margaret began repeating her vows before the Archbishop of Canterbury. Armstrong jones had spoken his responses clearly and firmly, but when the world's best known bachelor girl came to the ancient ritual of pledging herself to Tony, she choked up for a moment. For better or worse intoned the Archbishop of Canterbury. There was no reply. For better or worse! The Archbishop repeated. Then Margaret responded quietly, her voice lower than usual, as the two knelt on the gold silk cushions before the author, Where England's kings and queens have been crowned for centuries, Princess Margaret turned over another page of history as she said, I Margaret rose, Take the Anthony Charles robert to my wedded husband to have, and to hold from this day forward for better for worse for richer, for poorer in sickness and in health to love to cherish and to obey till death, do us part outside the gray weather worn Abby a million londoners and tourists roared cheers for the newlyweds. It was a warm, sunny day this afternoon. Mr and mrs. Anthony armstrong jones will board the royal yacht Britannia for a caribbean honeymoon cruise. A special account of their wedding can be heard over most of the CBS radio stations at 7 45 Eastern Time Tonight. The wedding of Princess Margaret presented by Elgin for modern styling, lasting dependability. There's no watch like an Elgin watch. Yeah.
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