News: Princess Margaret

Wednesday 13 February 2002

Princess Margaret
who died Saturday 9 February, was the President of the Royal Ballet, Patron of English National Ballet (1976-1989), Northern Ballet Theatre’s Royal Patron and was President of the Sadler’s Wells Foundation as well as many other roles.

She was dedicated to The Royal Ballet throughout her life, and took her role as President very seriously. She regularly attended rehearsals and performances both at the Royal Opera House and on tour abroad. She took a personal interest in the day-to-day business of the Company and has played a crucial role in establishing The Royal Ballet as one of the world’s greatest classical ballet companies.

Sir Anthony Dowell, former Director of The Royal Ballet said:
This is desperately sad news, she has meant so much to all of us in The Royal Ballet for many years as the President. Through all my good and difficult years as director she gave me tremendous support’.

Ross Stretton current Director of The Royal Ballet added:
‘ Although I only arrived in August last year, I was deeply impressed by HRH Princess Margaret’s thorough knowledge of both the company and the dance world in general. I am saddened that I will not have the opportunity of having a closer association with her, but feel confident that The Royal Ballet will continue to be a lasting legacy to her’.

Ian Albery, Chief Executive of Sadlers Wells said: “The dance world will especially mourn Princess Margaret because of her keen knowledge and interest in dance and Sadler’s Wells owes her a great debt for her support throughout her lifetime.”

The last time Princess Margaret attended Sadler’s Wells was for a special performance to mark her 70th birthday on 22nd October 2000, called Birthday Offering. It was an evening celebration of dance to honour Princess Margaret’s lifelong interest in dance.

The evening included performances by Gillian Lynne, Darcey Bussell, Sylvie Guillem and Jonathan Cope, Carlos Acosta, Irek Mukhamedov, and Marion Tait, David Bintley and Wayne Sleep dancing Tweedledum and Tweedledee choreographed by Frederick Ashton. Performances were also given by The Royal Ballet School, The English National Ballet School, dancers from the English National Ballet, Adventures in Motion Pictures, Rambert Dance Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Northern Ballet Theatre, and speeches by Dame Beryl Grey, Sir Anthony Dowell and Derek Deane.

A special work was created for the evening called Homage to a Princess, choreographed by Christopher Hampson with music by Eric Coates and performed by Tamara Rojo and Johan Kobborg of The Royal Ballet.

Her obituary in The Telegraph refers to her love of ballet:
‘In the 1970s she took part in water ballets at a friend’s house, choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton. More importantly, she persuaded Ashton to put on a special Covent Garden gala for the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday….
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She steadied Margot Fonteyn when the ballerina lost her balance after one royal curtsey too many, and on another occasion, after a ballet gala, told her that she would not comment on the performance until the television cameras ceased running, as “deaf people can often lip-read from the screen”. Nureyev, she thought, was “a marvellous new species of animal a creature from the moon”.
Telegraph, 10 Feb.02

See also:
BBC news online

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