L O N D O N, Jan. 1, 2000 -- Mystery surrounds the latesthealth problem to strike Princess Margaret, younger sister ofBritain’s Queen Elizabeth II, after palace officials announced shewas unwell but would give no details.
The 70-year-old princess, plagued by health problems sincemiddle age — including a stroke in 1998 — was undergoingmedical tests and was in bed at the Queen’s Sandringham estatein eastern England, Buckingham Palace said Sunday.
“We’re confirming that the princess has been unwell over theChristmas period,” a palace spokeswoman told Reuters.
“A doctor came to see her this weekend and is running anumber of tests, the results of which should be known in thenext few days.”
The spokeswoman said Margaret had not been to hospital andwas being treated at Sandringham, where the royal family hasbeen spending the Christmas holiday period.
British media came up with differing interpretations ofMargaret’s condition.
The BBC’s royal correspondent, Jennie Bond, said the tone ofthe palace’s comments suggested “concern rather than alarm.”
A Sunday tabloid reported the once fun-loving Margaret wassuffering from chronic depression. “She really has lost the willto live,” the People quoted a senior royal source as saying.
Seen in Wheelchair in Rare Public Appearance
Margaret — a headstrong beauty whose life of privilege hasbeen marred by ill-health, thwarted love and whiffs of scandal— was a notable absentee when the royal family made traditionalpublic appearances at Sandringham this Christmas.
In middle age, her health was a matter of frequent concernto the royal family. Surgeons removed a section of her left lungin 1985 as newspapers speculated that her condition had beenbrought on by chain-smoking up to 60 cigarettes a day.
1n 1999, she was ill for several weeks after scalding herfeet while taking a bath.
She was seen in a wheelchair at one of her rare publicappearances last year — London’s Chelsea Flower Show in May.
A Royal of Two Worlds
Margaret has lived a life torn between royal convention andrebellion. She has been essentially a fun-loving woman foreverovershadowed by her serious sister.
A divorced mother of two children, Margaret loves ballet,art and jazz, but it was her passion for the Caribbean island ofMustique, men and partying that captured the public imagination.
The often haughty Margaret was the first of the modernprincesses to spurn tradition in her pursuit of pleasure, andwas often attacked as a hard-smoking, hard-drinking hedonist.
Yet for all her bohemian instincts, Margaret gave up her onetrue love for the sake of protocol, has been her sister’s mostloyal servant and has adored the stuffy trappings of royal life.
In 1955, she yielded to pressure by renouncing her love fora handsome air force officer, Group Capt. Peter Townsend, whowas considered unacceptable because he was divorced.
The troubled romance had threatened a constitutional crisisbefore the broken-hearted princess relented and swiftly turnedto a flamboyant life in high society for consolation.
She went on to wed photographer Lord Snowdon. Their 18-yearmarriage produced two children — Viscount Linley and Lady SarahArmstrong-Jones — but ended in 1978.
It was the first divorce in the inner circle of the royalfamily since the days of King Henry VIII.
It was clear that Margaret and her husband were goingseparate ways. The press noticed in particular that the princesswas often accompanied by Roddy Llewellyn, bachelor son of acelebrated Olympic horseman and and much younger than her.
Pictures showing Margaret and Llewellyn lounging on aCaribbean beach were published, causing a royal scandal.
Margaret and the queen are reported to have remained closedespite their differing lifestyles.