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Princess Margaret

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Perhaps some of you will have read that Princess Margaret, the Queen's younger sister died on Saturday after suffering ill health for some years. She was the President of the Royal Ballet and at the evening performance at the Royal Opera House, Ross Stretton came on stage before curtain up to ask the audience to observe a minutes silence.

Margaret was a great balletomane all her life and undertook a large number of fund raising engagements overseas on the company's behalf. She was a friend of both Fonteyn and Nureyev and was a very close friend of Frederick Ashton. Ashton even created a short ballet depicting the childhood of Margaret and her sister which was shown at a royal gala some years ago. I remember it well as it was a lovely piece with two student dancers made up to resemble the little princesses in the hairstyles and costumes of the 1930's.

A news report stated that the Princess's last public appearance was in August for her mother's 101st birthday. This was incorrect as she attended the memorial service for Ninette de Valois a month later. She was a ballet fan till the end.

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I find that non-ballet people in Britain are mostly quite unaware that Princess Margaret was genuinely and seriously interested in ballet - they tend to think of her as being President of the Royal Ballet in name only, as is so often the case with these things, if they think about it at all. But she was really keen and in her time attended rehearsals as well as performances.

I wonder if the Royal Ballet School could revive Ashton's Nursery Suite for their performance this year - or perhaps it would be too sad. I remember that Margaret said (to Ashton) that it made them cry. It summed up so marvellously the difference in character and in expectation of the two girls.

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From the BBC, a piece on Princess Margaret in her role as patron of the arts, especially ballet:


Ted Heath also a ballet fan: scroll down to the bottom of this item for his quote on his and the late Princess' affection for the dance:


[ February 11, 2002: Message edited by: dirac ]

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from the monarchy's web site at www.royal.gov.uk:

People wishing to make charity donations in memory of Princess Margaret may wish to contribute to the following charities of which The Princess was Patron:

National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)

National Centre

42 Curtain Road


Telephone: 020 7825 2500

The Guide Association

17-19 Buckingham Palace Road


Telephone: 020 7834 6242

E-mail: chq@guides.org.uk

Royal Ballet

Royal Opera House

Covent Garden


Telephone: 020 7240 1200

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