We take a closer look at the fascinating life of Marie-Luce Jamagne, the Belgian heiress and Peter Townsend’s wife.
Thanks to the popularity of the hit Netflix series ‘The Crown’ we’ve seen a sudden surge in the number of people showing a keen interest in the royal family here in the United Kingdom – even if most of the show is pure fantasy and a complete distortion of the truth simply to create drama.
Of the smash-hit series, one storyline, in particular, grabbed viewers’ interest and that was the relationship/love affair of a certain Peter Townsend and Princess Margaret. To this day, people still talk about Princess Margaret and her unique and flamboyant personality, not to mention her relationship with the army hero.
However, what a lot of people don’t realize, is that after Margaret, Peter Townsend would go on to marry a Belgian heiress more than half his age younger. The woman in question was known as Marie-Luce Jamagne.
While not a great deal is known about Marie-Luce Jamagne and Townsend’s relationship, or rather, their marriage, the lead-up to their marriage is remarkable and in all honesty, it deserves its own series, let alone its own storyline on ‘The Crown’.
Here’s a look at Peter Townsend and Princess Margaret’s relationship, as well as the circumstances that resulted in him marrying the wonderful Belgian heiress Marie-Luce Jamagne.
Who Was Peter Townsend?
Peter Townsend was an RAF hero who served as equerry to King George VI from 1944 – 1952. He also held this same position for Queen Elizabeth II between 1952 and 1953.
Because of his high-ranking status in the RAF as a pilot, he had close ties to the royals, which is initially how he met Princess Margaret, who was younger sister of Elizabeth.
When he first met princess Margaret, it was at Buckingham Palace when he was being interviewed by her father George VI for the position of his equerry. At the time he met her, she was only a young girl.
A Love Affair Steeped In Controversy
Despite first meeting her when she was just 14, Peter Townsend and Princess Margaret didn’t form a romantic relationship until she was 22 years of age. Peter Townsend, however, was 16 years older than her.
Margaret had a unique sense of humour that Peter fell for, along with her kind and warm nature.
In 1952, shortly after the death of her father, the princess began spending more time with Peter and the two formed a strong bond. Soon, romance was on the cards.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the age gap that proved to be a problem for the two, but rather, it was the fact that he had previously been married. He had married Cecil Rosemary Pawle after a very brief engagement. They had two sons together but after she had an affair, Peter filed for divorce in late 1952.
The problem was that, because of his divorced status, at the time that meant that legally it was impossible for the princess to marry him. Both the Church of England and Parliament stated that they were firmly against the marriage.
Despite this, the two continued to date in secret and tried to keep their relationship a secret from the general public.
Eventually, people realized that the two were in a romantic relationship when, in 1953, the princess was seen casually picking a bit of fluff off of the RAF hero’s uniform outside Westminster Abbey. This seemed to confirm the rumours of their relationship and soon newspapers worldwide published the story.
The couple was very popular with the general public and they stated their desire to wed. The problem was that, as Margaret was under 25 years of age, the queen, her sister, had to give her legal consent to marry a divorcee. As she was head of the Church of England at the time, this made it extremely difficult.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated that his government would not approve of, or back, the marriage, even though the public was firmly behind the couple.
Townsend was forced to work in Brussels for the British Embassy as an air attache and spent the next two years in Belgium.
Eventually, the two were reunited, but again, marriage was not easy. In order for the marriage to be permitted, the princess would need to revoke her royal status. The princess chose to end the relationship and maintain her position as a royal.
Peter was said to be heartbroken after the princess’ decision, and he would go on to return to Belgium.
During his time there, he met a 20-year-old heiress named Marie-Luce Jamagne. This young Belgian woman was heiress to a tobacco fortune and was said to have a striking resemblance to Princess Margaret, though some people dispute this claim.
In 1959, aged 45, Peter Townsend married Marie-Luce Jamagne. The couple had two daughters together and one son. Their youngest daughter, Isabelle Townsend, took up a career in modelling. She actually became a very successful Ralph Lauren model in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The couple went on to live a quiet and secluded life, so not a great deal is known about them after their marriage. Both Peter and Marie-Luce Jamagne would, unfortunately, pass away in the same year, in 1995, though their legacy continues to live on.