Princess Margaret Once Flirted With Catholicism (and a Priest Named Derek Jennings)

Caroline Hallemann
·2 min read

From Town & Country

As the seasons of The Crown progress, the focus of the story shifts. In the beginning, the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret was at the center of showrunner Peter Morgan's plot; fast-forward to season four, and the younger royals (and in particular Charles and Diana) are featured much more prominently.

But Helena Bonham Carter's portrayal of the headstrong Margaret isn't entirely pushed to the side. In particular, the latest season shines a spotlight on the royal's relationship with a Catholic priest named Derek Jennings following her breakup with Roddy Llewellyn.

Photo credit: Des Willie
Photo credit: Des Willie

While the show has been known to take liberties, this religious flirtation is indeed based in fact. In Noel Botham's 2002 biography Margaret: The Last Real Princess, the author spoke with a colleague of Jennings's, who shared:

"[Jennings] was a great comfort to Princess Margret, but she was clearly attracted to him in other ways, too. She became besotted by him. That was the only way to describe her behaviour. She used any excuse to place herself near him, and used a variety of unsubtle ploys to let him know how impressed with him she was. She positively simpered at him. For various reasons, which of course she well understood, he felt unable to respond to her in that way. But he was able to answer her many questions about the Catholic Church, for he was always a superb teacher. And she was an excellent pupil. Like other members of the Royal Family before her, she was extremely attracted to the Catholic religion."

A church colleague of Jennings's also told Botham that "Derek believed that at some point Princess Margaret would ask to be received into the Catholic Church"—an astonishing claim, given the Queen's role as the head of the Church of England—but Margaret never publicly converted.

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