David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Snowdon
Viscount Linley (2nd crop) Trooping the Colour Saturday June 16th 2007.jpg
Armstrong-Jones in 2007
BornDavid Albert Charles Armstrong-Jones
(1961-11-03) 3 November 1961 (age 59)
Clarence House, London, England
(m. 1993;sep. 2020)
  • Charles Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley
  • Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones
Education Bedales School

David Albert Charles Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon (born 3 November 1961), styled as Viscount Linley until 2017 and known professionally as David Linley, is an English furniture maker, a former chairman of the auction house Christie's UK, [1] and nephew of Queen Elizabeth II. The son of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, he is, as of September 2021, 25th in the line of succession to the British throne and the first person who is not a descendant of the Queen. [2]


Early life and education

David Albert Charles Armstrong-Jones was born on 3 November 1961, in Clarence House, London, the son of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon. He was baptised on 19 December 1961 in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace. [3] [4] [5] His godparents are his aunt Queen Elizabeth II, Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, Patrick Plunket, 7th Baron Plunket, Lord Rupert Nevill, and Simon Phipps. [3]

At the age of five, Snowdon began lessons in the Buckingham Palace schoolroom with his cousin Prince Andrew. [6] He went to several independent schools: first, to Gibbs Pre-Preparatory School in Kensington in London, [7] followed by the pre-preparatory section of Ashdown House School, East Sussex, then on to Millbrook House School, near Abingdon, in Oxfordshire, [8] and finally to Bedales School, where he developed a passion for arts and crafts. From 1980 to 1982 he studied at Parnham House in the small town of Beaminster in Dorset, for craftsmen in wood. [9]

Snowdon has one full sister, Lady Sarah Chatto (née Armstrong-Jones), and two paternal half-sisters, Lady Frances von Hofmannsthal (née Armstrong-Jones) and Polly Fry. [10] Snowdon also has a half-brother, Jasper Cable-Alexander, son of his father and Melanie Cable-Alexander, an editor at Country Life magazine.

Professional life

Linley store in Burlington Arcade, London, 2015 Linley, Burlington Arcade, London 01.jpg
Linley store in Burlington Arcade, London, 2015

Snowdon opened a workshop in Dorking, where he designed and made furniture for three years before setting up his own company, David Linley Furniture Limited (now known as Linley), where he makes bespoke furniture, upholstery, and interior design products known for their neoclassical appearance and use of inlaid woods. He has written numerous books and lectured around the world. [11] His work is sold in retail stores in Belgravia, Harrods, and overseas, including the Bespoke Collection. [12] He borrowed from his company by causing it to make loans, acquiring some £3 million in debts, a situation eventually resolved by the sale of controlling shares for £4 million in 2012; [13] he thereby lost control of the company. [14]

On 1 December 2006, Snowdon took up the post of chairman of Christie's UK, having joined the board in 2005 as a non-executive director. [11] In 2015, his position was changed to honorary chairman of Christie's EMERI (Europe, Middle East, Russia, and India). [15]

In the past Snowdon dabbled in the restaurant business with his friend and second cousin Patrick Lichfield; they established a restaurant called Deals in Chelsea, London. [3] [16] According to Princess Margaret's biographer, Theo Aronson, Snowdon had a flair for the networking aspect of business and was successful in getting people to come through the doors. [3]

Candidacy for the House of Lords

Snowdon's father was originally a member of the House of Lords by virtue of his being granted a peerage. When the House of Lords was reformed in 1999 and most hereditary peers lost their seats, he was given a life peerage. An offer of a life peerage was made to all hereditary peers of the first creation (those for whom a peerage was originally created, as opposed to those who inherited a peerage from an ancestor) at that time. The second earl, accordingly, did not inherit a place in the House of Lords along with his title.

However, in 2018 Snowdon became a candidate in a by-election to fill a vacancy among the ranks of the crossbench peers. [17] Only hereditary peers are eligible to stand in this election, and only the 31 currently sitting in the Lords as crossbenchers are eligible to vote. Unlike other candidates, Snowdon did not write a statement accompanying his announcement of candidacy. [18] He later withdrew from consideration for the seat. Reportedly, his candidacy had "raised eyebrows" due to his relation to the royal family. [19]

Personal life and family

Pictured with his daughter in 2017 LadyMargaritaArmstrongJonesSandringham.jpg
Pictured with his daughter in 2017
Coat of Arms of the 2nd Earl of Snowdon Coat of arms of Antony Armstrong-Jones as 1st Earl of Snowdon.png
Coat of Arms of the 2nd Earl of Snowdon

On 8 October 1993, Snowdon married the Hon. Serena Alleyne Stanhope (born 1 March 1970, Limerick, Ireland), daughter of Viscount Petersham (later the 12th Earl of Harrington) at St. Margaret's Church, Westminster. There were 650 guests in attendance. [20] Through her father, Stanhope descends from Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, one of the illegitimate children of Charles II of England. [21]

Snowdon and his wife have two children:

From 2000 until 2002, Snowdon, his wife and son lived at Kensington Palace with his mother, Princess Margaret, in her declining years. [22] On 8 April 2002, Snowdon, along with the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and the Earl of Wessex, "stood guard" at the lying-in-state of their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. [23] This Vigil of the Princes had taken place only once before, during the lying-in-state of George V in 1936.

In October and November 2007, rumours circulated on the internet suggesting that a member of the British royal family was the victim of blackmail. The first confirmation that the royal in the extortion attempt was indeed Viscount Linley, as Snowdon was known at the time, came from the journalist Nicholas Davies. [24] Ian Strachan and Sean McGuigan tried to extort £50,000 from Snowdon in September by threatening to release video footage showing sex acts and cocaine use (allegedly by Snowdon and a male royal aide) on a mobile phone. [24] Snowdon contacted the police. Strachan and McGuigan were arrested after showing their video footage to an undercover detective, [24] and at trial were sentenced to five years in prison. [25]

In 2011, Snowdon's daughter, Margarita Armstrong-Jones, was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. In 2012, Snowdon's son, styled by courtesy as Viscount Linley since January 2017, was appointed by the Queen as a page of honour. [26]

The Snowdons have three homes: a flat in Chelsea, London; a cottage on the Daylesford estate in Gloucestershire; [27] and the Chateau d'Autet [28] in the Luberon, Provence.

The Earl and his wife separated in February 2020, and a spokesperson confirmed they are to obtain a divorce. [29]

Titles and styles

Published works

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  2. Colacello, Bob. "How the Earl of Snowdon Turned His Heritage into a Lifestyle". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Aronson, Theo (2013). Princess Margaret: A Biography. Thistle Publishing.
  4. "Princess Margaret and husband". Getty Images. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  5. de Courcy, Anne. "The Princess and the Photographer". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on 19 March 2015.
  6. Viscount Linley Publisher: Mandy's Royalty. Org. retrieved 22 May 2013.
  7. Viscount Linley in school uniform, Gibbs School, Kensington, London, 4 October 1968. Publisher: Heritage Images. Com. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  8. Archive - Tuesday, 6 May 2003 - Prep school set to close Publisher:The Oxford Mail. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  9. "Architecture: The school that got lost in the woods - Peter Dunn on". 12 January 1994.
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  11. 1 2 "David Linley appointed chairman of Christie's UK" (PDF) (Press release). Christie's. 3 November 2006.
  12. Schneider, Sara (February 2012). "Northern California Weekend" (PDF). Sunset: 20. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  13. White, Anna (5 April 2012). "David Linley loses control of furniture business". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  14. Woods, Judith (3 July 2012). "Viscount Linley: 'Sure, I wheel and deal.'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  15. "Corporate Announcements". Press Archive. Christie's website. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  16. "The Earl of Lichfield (obituary)". The Daily Telegraph. 12 November 2005. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
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  26. Walker, Tim (March 2012). "The Queen turns a page for Viscount Linley's son". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  27. Tyzack, Anna (24 November 2011). "My perfect weekend: David Linley". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  28. Purnell, Sonia (29 June 2003). "My passion for Provence". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 14 February 2011.
  29. Mackelden, Amy (17 February 2020). "Princess Margaret's Son, the Earl of Snowdon, Is Getting Divorced". Harper's Bazaar . Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  30. "Snowdon, Earl of (UK, 1961)". www.cracroftspeerage.co.uk.
David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon
Born: 3 November 1961
Lines of succession
Preceded by
Lucas Tindall
Succession to the British throne Succeeded by
Viscount Linley
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Phillips
The Earl of Snowdon
Succeeded by
The Duke of Gloucester
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Antony Armstrong-Jones
Earl of Snowdon
Viscount Linley