When the Prince of Wales abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson in 1936, his decision forever changed two sisters. The princesses of York, 10-year-old Princess Elizabeth and 6-year-old Princess Margaret, who, until that point, had been raised without the concern that their father would become king or eldest sister Elizabeth would one day be queen.
Until then, the
two princesses were raised very much alike, royal biographer Andrew Morton told Vogue. They were dressed alike and educated the same way, almost like little twins even though they were four years apart. Instead of being thought of as the classic “heir and the spare” from birth, they were just sisters. Best friends. Two peas in a pod. And until Princess Margaret’s death in 2002, it seems very little changed. The two sisters remained incredibly close throughout their lives, despite their very different personalities. Queen Elizabeth is c onsidered more of an introvert, duty-bound in all things to the monarchy, while Princess Margaret was considered an extrovert. Something of a rebel.
As their father
King George VI once said of his daughters, “Lilibet [his nickname for Elizabeth] is my pride, and Margaret is my joy.” Each one complementing the other in her own way. Loving That Big Sister Role Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The birth of Princess Margaret made little Princess Elizabeth a big sister, and she clearly took to her role from day one.
Just Two Princesses In Cute Coats PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images
In 1934, life was still pretty simple for the two daughters of the Duke and Duchess of York. Little Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were just two cute kids in adorable coats with matching hairstyles.
“We Four” Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images The Year It All Changed Lisa Sheridan/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
The two sisters were still dressed the same in 1936, still having a great time together feeding biscuits to their dogs. But of course, everything else had changed.
Side By Side PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images
During World War II, Princess Elizabeth delivered her first radio broadcast to the children living in the United Kingdom. As her voice brought comfort to those children in 1940, her sister’s presence brought comfort to her.
The End Of The War PNA Rota/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
In 1945, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret celebrated the end of World War II along with the rest of the world.
Similar Sense Of Style Hulton Deutsch/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
In 1948, the two princesses were single women with their whole lives ahead of them. And a shockingly similar sense of style.
A New Man In Town Hulton Archive/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
Prince Philip joined the royal family when he married Princess Elizabeth in 1947, which must have felt strange for Princess Margaret.
A Royal Aunt Central Press/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
More members of the family were added when Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip welcomed their children, and Princess Margaret looked delighted with Princess Anne in 1951.
At The Queen’s Side PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images
After their father’s death in 1952, Princess Margaret’s sister became Queen Elizabeth. But it didn’t look like this change stopped them from having fun at the theater together.
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Queen Elizabeth might have been taking the horse trials seriously in 1966, but Princess Margaret was ready to have some fun.
Back In The Saddle Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images
Princess Margaret married Anthony Armstrong-Jones, the Earl of Snowden, in 1960, and Queen Elizabeth was settling into her new role as head of the monarchy. But they still found time to hang out at the Badminton horse trials together. Just like old times.
Girls’ Getaway Anwar Hussein/Getty Images News/Getty Images
In 1977, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret had six children between them and loads of royal responsibilities. So a little getaway to the island of Mustique, where Princess Margaret had built a home, made perfect sense.
Her Constant Companion Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images
By 1984, Queen Elizabeth was a grandmother of three and Princess Margaret had gone through a very public divorce. But they were still best in each other’s company.
Christmas At Sandringham Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret looked like they were full of Christmas spirit at Sandringham. I feel like the royal purple coat and fur are sort of perfect representations.
Out For A Joy Ride Martin Keene - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images
Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth looked cozy in their carriage in 1993.
A Night On The Town Pool/Tim Graham Picture Library/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images
The royal sisters got dressed up for a night at the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Still Laughing After All These Years Julian Parker/UK Press/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth was cracking Princess Margaret up at Royal Ascot in 1996.
Always Close By ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were on hand to celebrate their mother’s 97th birthday in 1997.
One Last Dance The three royal women have a chat.
Princess Margaret, an avid fan of the ballet, attended one last show in 2000 with her mother and her sister. She died in 2002, and Queen Elizabeth was said to be devastated. After a lifetime together, who could blame her?