CAROLINE GRAHAM: Story of Princess Margaret and Eddie Fisher
CAROLINE GRAHAM: The incredible story of Princess Margaret and 1950s crooner Eddie Fisher – as revealed to our woman in LA by his fourth wife
- Princess Margaret’s fling with crooner Eddie Fisher is revealed in a new memoir
Princess Margaret opened her bedroom door wearing a transparent negligee. As she ushered American pop idol Eddie Fisher into her boudoir he was struck by the pungent smell of ‘cigarette smoke and expensive perfume’.
Moments later they were in Margaret’s bed where, Eddie would later recall, he enjoyed one of the most passionate and intense sexual encounters of his life, one that remained so ingrained in his memory he could recount even the smallest details decades later.
He would remember Margaret’s ‘perfect’ breasts, the way their bodies ‘fit together perfectly’ and how, thanks to a cocktail of amphetamines and steroids, he was able to satisfy the Princess ‘multiple times’ during ‘explosive sex’.
At the time of their encounter, in May 1953, Margaret was already secretly engaged to Group Captain Peter Townsend, who she would be forced to renounce because he was divorced.
And just a month after her fling with Fisher, Margaret would walk down the aisle of Westminster Abbey at her sister Elizabeth’s Coronation.
Margaret’s train would be held by her loyal lady-in-waiting Iris Peake, who was pivotal in sneaking Eddie into the Princess’s bedchamber and who was later seduced by him herself.
Princess Margaret’s husband Lord Snowdon took this photograph of her in 1959, showing off her exquisite sense of style in this red evening gown and white stole
Eddie Fisher, right, and Princess Margaret, at the Red White and Blue Ball, London, May 1953
The full astonishing details of Margaret’s fling with Fisher are recounted in a new memoir by Eddie’s ex-wife, Terry Richard, called Beauty Queen Dreams.
Eddie’s daughter, Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, first confirmed the romance when she appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2016 saying: ‘My father had sex with Princess Margaret. In a beautiful way they made love.’
She declined to comment further, saying: ‘I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for this.’
But in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday last night, ex-wife Terry, 69, said: ‘Eddie never talked about Princess Margaret in public, he respected her too much, but he told me about their encounter many, many times during our marriage. He looked back on it with great affection.’
Fisher was one of Hollywood’s most notorious womanisers and was married five times, including to Elizabeth Taylor who ‘stole’ him from her best friend Debbie Reynolds.
But he was 24 and single in May 1953, when he met 22-year-old Margaret at the Red, White and Blue charity ball at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
Terry, who married Eddie in 1975, said: ‘He’d already had 17 No1 records on both sides of the Atlantic and was in London because his song Outside Of Heaven was at the top of the charts and he was playing a series of shows at the London Palladium.
Eddie Fisher, aged 47, and Terry Richard, aged 21, former Miss Louisiana in the Miss World Contest in 1973, who were married
‘He was a massive star, a teenybopper idol. I guess you could call him the Harry Styles of his day. Princess Margaret was a big fan of his and she had a friend, the daughter of the US ambassador to Britain, bring all his records over from the States before they were released in the UK.
‘Eddie landed and received a note from the Princess telling him how much she was looking forward to meeting him at the ball, which Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother were attending.’
READ MORE: EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Princess Margaret’s older lover encouraged a romance when she was a teenager ‘which he shouldn’t have done’, her former Lady In Waiting says
The relationship between Princess Margaret and Group Captain Peter Townsend has been put into slightly disquieting perspective by her former lady-in-waiting Lady Anne Glenconner. Princess Margaret is pictured with Group Captain Peter Townsend in 1947 when she was 16
Eddie treasured the note, which read: ‘We will not make as much noise as they do at the Palladium, but will be loving it just the same. I’ll be leading the applause.’
Terry, a former Miss Louisiana, said: ‘Eddie was smitten with her the first time he saw her. He told me she was tiny with the most beautiful piercing blue eyes. He sang for 45 minutes at the ball and directed all his love songs straight at Margaret.
‘When Eddie turned on the charm, he really turned it on.’
At the time, the late Queen’s younger sister was already madly in love with equerry Peter Townsend and the pair had secretly become engaged. Their doomed romance was depicted in the first series of The Crown, with Vanessa Kirby playing Margaret. A heartbroken Margaret was forced to break off the engagement and end their relationship because Townsend, who the Princess called ‘the love of my life’, was a divorcee. Terry said: ‘Margaret was still very much with Peter Townsend when she met Eddie.
‘In some ways the fact she slept with Eddie goes against the narrative that she was this poor girl who was doomed to be unhappy because she couldn’t marry the man she loved. Eddie told me she was a girl who knew exactly what she wanted and on the night of the ball she wanted him.
‘She propositioned him, asking him if he wanted to come over to Clarence House later that night
‘You have to admire her. Her mother and her sister, the Queen, were at the event and she had the courage to whisper in Eddie’s ear and proposition him for sex.
‘After the ball he went back to his hotel and Margaret’s lady-in-waiting called him and said there was a car on the way to pick him up.
‘Eddie went downstairs and there was a very formal-looking man, who drove him to Clarence House.
‘They drove past the guards and he was taken to a side entrance.’
Once inside, the singer was met by lady-in-waiting Iris Peake, who led him through a beautiful sitting room with a baby grand piano to a back corridor with a staircase leading to Margaret’s bedroom door. Terry said: ‘Eddie remembered tiny details, even years later.
‘He said the stair railings had beautiful crosses in the ironwork and Margaret met him at the door wearing a see-through negligee with lace embellishments.
‘The bedroom smelled of cigarettes and expensive perfume.’
Elizabeth Taylor congratulates Eddie Fisher backstage at the Tropicana after watching his opening
The Princess offered him a gin and tonic but Fisher was already high on a cocktail of drugs which had been given to him via injection by a notorious doctor known as Dr Feelgood
The Princess offered him a gin and tonic but Fisher was already high on a cocktail of drugs which had been given to him via injection by a notorious doctor known as Dr Feelgood.
‘Eddie never went anywhere without that man,’ Terry said.
‘Eddie pretended he was getting vitamin injections but, in reality, he was getting shot up with a mixture of amphetamines, steroids, painkillers and animal hormones.
‘He didn’t want his performance in the bedroom to be affected so he drank Malvern water from a crystal tumbler.’ While he never discussed the sexual tryst publicly, Eddie would regale his wife with explicit details.
‘He told me the sex was explosive. Margaret wasn’t a virgin. She was uninhibited in bed. It went on for ages and they were both satisfied, multiple times. Eddie told me they ‘fit perfectly’ and she cried out ‘Eddie! Oh Eddie!’ over and over.
‘He told Dr Feelgood how great the sex had been and the doctor told him he shouldn’t expect the same results every time.’
Eddie was shocked when he went into Margaret’s bathroom, which was tiny by American standards.
‘He washed himself in the bathtub and Margaret joked she’d bathed her dogs in there earlier that day.
‘After the sex they both drank double whiskies and laughed and joked around.
Eddie would meet the Princess again, in 1957, at a private party. By that stage he was with his first wife, actress Debbie Reynolds (star of Singin’ In The Rain), known as ‘America’s Sweetheart
Richard Burton, Eddie Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra in Rome, November, 1961
‘You have to remember they were the biggest stars on the planet at the time. It was a month before the Queen’s Coronation and Margaret was probably relieved to be able to let off steam.
‘Once they’d finished their whiskies, Iris, the lady-in-waiting, was called and she led Eddie back down the stairs and out the way he’d come in. He remembered every detail for years afterwards. There was a chandelier above the bed, the room was decorated in various shades of pink. The pillows were silk.
‘He said Margaret had the most perfect breasts of any woman he had ever slept with – and he slept with a lot of women, including Liz Taylor.’
Intriguingly, Eddie told his wife he also bedded Iris, the lady-in-waiting. ‘He never went into the detail of it but she obviously knew where he was staying and he’d joke about discovering what the lady-in-waiting was waiting for.
‘He would say Margaret was very passionate but Iris was prim and proper on the outside. But once she was in bed she was wild.
‘He was pretty proud of himself for sleeping with the Princess and her lady-in-waiting. I have no idea if Princess Margaret knew he slept with Iris.’
Eddie would meet the Princess again, in 1957, at a private party. By that stage he was with his first wife, actress Debbie Reynolds (star of Singin’ In The Rain), known as ‘America’s Sweetheart’.
Reynolds, the mother of Carrie Fisher, was best friends with Elizabeth Taylor. When Taylor’s husband, producer Mike Todd, was killed in a plane crash, Reynolds sent Eddie over to console her.
He never came home.
Eddie divorced Reynolds in 1959 to marry Taylor. That marriage ended in 1964 and he went on to wed Connie Stevens in 1967. That marriage ended three years later.
He met Terry in 1974, when she was just 19 and he was 46.
The pair married the following year but divorced in 1976. ‘We divorced but we stayed together for another seven years,’ Terry said. ‘In the end I left him because of his drug use.
‘I would never have told the Princess Margaret story because it was something Eddie never shared with the public, but when Carrie came out and said it on the TV show, then I figured it was fine to put the details out there.
‘In a weird way Eddie used it as a seduction technique. He would talk about it as a precursor to sex. It was a memory that turned him on.
‘He was a Jewish boy from Philadelphia and sleeping with her was his own real-life fairy tale.’
Lady-in-waiting Iris Peake died two years ago at the age of 98.
Her obituary revealed she was far from a quiet wallflower. She was the daughter of barrister and Conservative MP Osbert Peake and Lady Joan Capell. Her grandmother was Adele, Countess of Essex, a beauty from Boston who was painted by John Singer Sargent.
Iris worked for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) during the war and decades later told her daughter Emma that she was tasked with making copies of documents so secret she was locked in a room.
She confided that one document referred to the phrase ‘heavy water’ [a form of water used to turn uranium into plutonium] so was probably about the atomic bomb.
Iris was a devoted friend to Margaret and became her lady-in-waiting in 1952. She was pivotal in keeping Margaret’s relationship with Peter Townsend under wraps.
Townsend sent love notes to Iris’s flat in Belgravia, which she would pass on to her boss and then slip Margaret’s replies to him into post boxes so he would receive them in the regular mail.
Iris married the Queen Mother’s private secretary, Oliver Dawnay, in 1963 and retired to raise their family in Wiltshire, where she grew roses, clematis and fritillaries.
Terry has been married for 30 years to actor David Sederholm, who appeared opposite Sean Connery in the 1990 film The Hunt For Red October. Eddie was with his fifth and final wife Betty Lin from 1993 until her death in 2001. He died in 2010 at the age of 82.
Princess Margaret would have affairs with other Hollywood stars including Peter O’Toole, David Niven and Peter Sellers.
Her only marriage, to photographer Lord Snowdon, ended in divorce in 1978 after 18 years. She died in 2002 at the age of 71.
Terry said: ‘I hope sharing this story might change the narrative around her. For years, shows like The Crown have portrayed her as a pathetic character who turned to drink because she couldn’t marry Peter Townsend.
‘But Eddie always said she was a woman ahead of her time. She wanted him and she went for it.
‘I hope it made her happy. It certainly made him happy.’
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