Heritage

Who Was Lord Snowdon's Former Girlfriend, Jacqui Chan?

Here's how Chan affected the relationship of Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon.
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Here's what you need to know about the future Lord Snowdon's real-life relationship with his former girlfriend Jacqui Chan.

JACQUI CHAN AND ANTONY ARMSTRONG-JONES STARTED DATING IN 1955.

Chan met Armstrong-Jones in March 1955, when the 25-year-old photographer took the 18-year-old dancer's portrait. At the time she was starring in the play Teahouse of the August Moon. According to the Telegraph, Chan then became Armstrong-Jones's "first proper girlfriend."

Anne de Courcy, author of Snowdon: The Biography, a semi-authorized work, writes of this period, "[Jacqui] was Tony's first real love. They would meet whenever they could, chiefly at the Pimlico Road studio where Jacqui, running around after Tony, fetching, carrying and attentive to his every word, soon became known as a resident girlfriend."

MARRIAGE WASN'T AN OPTION.

Despite the couple's strong mutual attraction, marriage wasn't in the cards. "From the start, there was no question of marriage and neither discussed it," writes de Courcy. "Jacqui was very young and just beginning to achieve real notice as a dancer and Tony believed thirty was a good age for a man to marry."

While he had considerable feelings for Chan, Armstrong-Jones also carried out liaisons with other people throughout their relationship.

PRINCESS MARGARET ENTERS THE PICTURE.

Eventually though, Armstrong-Jones and Chan's love fizzled out. According to de Courcy, Armstrong-Jones started to treat Chan differently in 1959, disappearing without explanation. She writes, "there was a flaming row, and Jacqui, who was in any case about to go on tour in Europe in a show called Moon over the Rainbow Shore, went off for good."

"By summer of 1959 [Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret] were deeply in love and conducting an affair, he was still leading his busy private life at full throttle. Girls still came and went at the studio, and although Jacqui Chan was less in evidence, he was still carrying on his affair with Gina Ward."

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When Jacqui heard the news of her former lover's engagement to Princess Margaret, she reportedly said, "Well, I hope she can cope better than I could."

CHAN WAS MORE THAN JUST ARMSTRONG-JONES'S EX.

After the announcement that Armstrong-Jones was engaged to Princess Margaret, the press began to hound Chan. Eventually, she got fed up. "As soon as the engagement was announced, writers began to ask all sorts of personal questions I had no intention of answering," she told The Australian Women's Weekly in February of 1961. "When they rang to ask silly questions I just said, 'Look, don't bother to ring me when you want a story. Just say whatever you want to say.'"

She then went on to tell her side of the story. "I was never dying of a broken heart, no matter how often they said so...The real truth is this: Tony and I were good friends. But there were many other friends just as close to him as I was."

In that interview, she also wanted to make it perfectly clear that she had her own success apart from her relationship with Armstrong-Jones. "I do not owe my career to all that sort of publicity," she said. "The suggestion that I had never been offered a job until all this business is what makes me so mad. It just isn't true."

Indeed, Chan, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1939, has had a long and varied career, both as a dancer on stage, and an actress on the silver screen. Some of her most notable works include Cleopatra, The World of Suzie Wong, and the television series Marco Polo.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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