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A Chance Encounter with Princess Margaret

Oldie Updates | Summer 2017

Andy Suddon remembers meeting Princess Margaret whilst working as a police officer.

SIR: The article by Roderick Gilchrist “I met Princess Margaret” (April issue) reminds me of my brief encounter with Princess Margaret. I was a young police constable on duty one winter evening in 1959 in Coldstream High Street, Berwickshire, when my attention was drawn to the sound of a car travelling fast coming north on the A697 road from the direction of Cornhill, Northumberland into the town. When it came into sight about 200/300 yards away I saw that it was a big Jaguar saloon with the headlights on. I stepped out into the street and waved my torch and put up my right hand to signal it to stop. There was a screech of tyres as it braked and I estimate it was travelling about 50/60 mph. Fortunately, the driver saw me and got the car stopped - just.

He wound down the window and said “We’re going to the Ball.” I saw that it was driven by a young man and said, “Sir, there is a 30 mph speed limit in force at all times in this town” which evoked the reply “but, but we’re going to the Ball.” My reply was “If you continue to drive like that you might not reach the Ball.”

Before he could say anything else a lady in the middle of the back seat said “The officer is entirely correct.” I shone my torch into the back seat and saw the lady in question was HRH Princess Margaret sitting between HRH Princess Alexandra and her husband-to-be Mr Angus Ogilvy as he then was. I knew that the Ball he was referring to was The Berwickshire Hunt Ball which was being held that night at Marchmont House, Greenlaw, and the car driver was a young man and he must have collected his Royal passengers at Berwick-upon-Tweed railway station.

Princess Margaret, despite her reputation, certainly took my side on this occasion and put him in his place or maybe the speed he had been driving on the open road had scared her witless and my intervention had been her saviour.

I didn’t report the incident to my Sergeant and never heard any more about it.


This story was from Summer 2017 issue. Subscribe Now