Who is the new Earl of Snowdon?
David Armstrong-Jones was born November 3, 1961 at Clarence House in London. He is the son of the late Princess Margaret and the late Antony “Tony” Armstrong-Jones.
Tony Armstrong-Jones was given the title Earl of Snowdon by the Queen upon his marriage to Princess Margaret. Thus, David grew up as Viscount Linley, a courtesy title as the son of the Earl of Snowdon.
While David is the son of a princess, he is not royal. He is a part of the Queen’s family but not an official member of the Royal Family. As such, David and his sister made their own way in life – Lady Sarah (b. May 1, 1964) as a painter, and David as a craftsman of luxury furniture.
Influenced by the opulent settings of his mother’s royal world and the artistic world of his photographer father, David developed a lasting love and curiosity of how things are crafted.
“I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by beautiful things,” David says. “Instead of taking these for granted, I wanted to find out more about the making process, whether a vase, a car, a sculpture or indeed a piece of furniture.”
David started lessons in the Buckingham Palace schoolroom, but as he got older, his parents recognized his skills and enrolled him in Bedales, a school renowned for its arts and design. From there, David studied at Parnham House School for Craftsman in Wood in Dorset.
In 1985, David opened his eponymous David Linley Co Ltd., where he produced bespoke luxury furniture as well as beautifully crafted home accessories with his team. The company is housed in a tony showroom on London’s Pimlico Road.
In 2012, David sold a large percentage of his company to yacht broker Jamie Edmiston. He retained a leadership position and continued to work as chairman of Christie’s UK. As of 2015, Christie’s announced that David was appointed the Honorable Chairman for Christie’s in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and India. He has certainly kept busy.
“I’m not royal,” David says. “My mother is, but I’m not. I’m basically a businessman. That’s all I talk about.”
According to reports in 2006, his businessman side may have been what led him into controversy. After Princess Margaret’s death in 2002, David and his sister Sarah were left to deal with inheritance tax. To offset this, David organized an auction via Christie’s to sell many of Margaret’s belongings. His father Tony was said to be unhappy about the sale, as was Sarah. It’s hardly surprising to see why: among the lots were wedding gifts given to Margaret and Tony, as well as Margaret’s famous wedding tiara (the huge and dazzling Poltimore).
“I had the sale for a very simple reason, which was an inheritance tax situation, and wanting to build for my family’s future and my children’s education – normal family requirements,” the viscount told The Sunday Telegraph in 2007.
The Queen was not convinced. She is reported to have stepped in to stipulate the conditions of the sale of certain objects. If any gifts given to Princess Margaret in her official capacity were sold, the proceeds would go to charity.
In 1993, David married The Honorable Serena Stanhope. Serena was born in Co. Limerick, Ireland, to the Earl of Harrington and his first wife, Virginia Freeman-Jackson.
David and Serena have been married for twenty-three years and have two children: Charles Patrick Inigo (b. 1999) and Margarita Elizabeth Alleyne (b. 2002). Formerly known as The Honorable Margarita Armstrong-Jones, she will now be known as Lady Margarita. Charles, the Queen’s Page of Honor, assumes the mantle of Viscount Linley.
Despite taking on a new title, David Armstrong-Jones and his family live a quiet life away from the spotlight. They divide their time between their Chateau d’Autet in Provence, France and England. David says they love watching The Archers and cycling in the countryside. As always, I wish them the best in this new chapter in their lives.