Published On: Sun, Nov 28th, 2021

Queen Elizabeth & Princess Margaret: Royal sisters’ had ‘hierarchical’ relationship

Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret were born in 1926 and 1930 respectively, and for the first 10 years of Elizabeth’s life, they lived relatively normal upper-class lives. However, when the young Princesses’ uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated, this made Princess Elizabeth the heir presumptive. This made Princess Margaret a permanent supporting act for the remainder of her life to her older sister.

Although only a few years apart, Elizabeth showed personality traits of being protective and “superior” from her childhood days, according to body language expert Judi James.

On the other hand, Margaret seemed to be more “spontaneous” and carefree at that age, which was symbolic of their positions then and what was to come once Elizabeth inherited the throne.

Judi James spoke exclusively to about the sisters’ relationship and what their childhood photos reveal about it.

Judi said: “Elizabeth and Margaret’s father leap-frogged to the role of King when his older brother abdicated.

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“This hierarchical change did produce some differences in the sister’s body language signals, many of which were taught rather than spontaneous.

“Elizabeth’s power and poise signals were always expected to be superior as she was inducted into the future role she was expected to inherit.

“She even sits at a higher level than her mother in this formal group photo, placing one arm on her mother’s shoulder to hint at a more protective role.

“Her pose with Margaret in the royal office shows Elizabeth inspecting a script or document with a businesslike frown.


“This is well beyond her actual age while Margaret has a more playful and childlike facial expression.

“Elizabeth was brought up taking a slightly maternal role with her younger sister and this even led to friction when she had to set rules and regulations for Margaret according to royal protocol.

“The Queen Mother’s role seemed to be to instil a sense of duty and regal responsibility in her girls, but in particular her elder daughter.

“It was clear from their body language though that Elizabeth and Margaret’s relationship was mutually protective.

By 1985, Margaret was ninth in line, behind the Queen’s four children and four grandchildren (Charles and Anne each had two children at this point).

The 1937 Regency Act created a list of senior royals who could be called on to deputise for the monarch in an official capacity. These royals were called Counsellors of State.

The Regency Act restricted the number of Counsellors of State to just six.

Now that Edward had turned 21, he was of age, which meant he was automatically added to the Regency Act list, in place of Margaret.

This meant Margaret would have fewer responsibilities, while the Queen would continue to be centre stage.

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