From Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses Of Princess Margaret, by Craig Brown, published by Fourth Estate on September 28 2017, on how Princess Margaret turned pickiness into an art form as she went out of her way to ruffle feathers and put strangers at unease:
To impress on people that she was Royal, Princess Margaret had to take the only path available to her: to act imperiously, to make her presence felt, to pull well-wishers up short, to set strangers at their unease.
She took a perverse pleasure in saying the wrong thing, ruffling feathers, disarming, disdaining, making her displeasure felt.
Cherie Blair, the brittle wife of the former Prime Minister, encountered this first-hand. She was talking to the Princess at the Royal Opera House when the Secretary of State for Culture came over.
‘Have you met Chris Smith, our Culture Secretary, Ma’am?’ she said. ‘And this is his partner…’
‘Partner for what?’ asked the Princess.
‘At this point,’ writes Cherie Blair, ‘I took a breath. “Sex, Ma’am.” This reply proved unwelcome. She stalked off.’
But Mrs Blair remains unapologetic. ‘She knew exactly what kind of partner I meant. She was just trying to catch me out.’