Lord Snowdon dies at 86

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The former brother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, passed away peacefully in his London home on Friday 13 January 2017. His son David, aged 55, inherits his titles and arms and is now the 2nd Earl of Snowdon.

Antony Armstrong-Jones was a British photographer, film maker and philanthropist. In 1960 he married Princess Margaret, the only sister of Queen Elizabeth II. The marriage was troubled and ended in scandal and divorce in 1978.

The wedding of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones took place on 6 May 1960 at Westminster Abbey in London. The couple had two children: David Armstrong-Jones, the present Earl of Snowdon, born in 1961, and Lady Sarah Chatto née Armstrong-Jones, born in 1964. Both of them, as well as their children, are in line of succession to the Queen.

Shortly before David’s birth Antony Armstrong-Jones was created Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley. Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales with its 1,085 m above sea level. The mountain’s name was connected to the British royal family already in the 18th Century: Baron Snowdon was among the many titles of King George III.

According to British custom a peer’s “lesser” title is used as a courtesy title by his eldest son, so David Armstrong-Jones was styled Viscount Linley in the lifetime of his father. As a designer, writer and businessmann he has used the Linley name commercially. His son, 17-year-old Charles Armstrong-Jones, is the new Lord Linley.

The coat of arms of the Earl of Snowdon has a chevron of silver and red as well as an eagle and two fleurs-de-lis of gold, all on black. A fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily. The blazon i.e. the proper heraldic description of the arms reads:

Sable, on a chevron argent, between in chief two fleurs-de-lis Or, and in base an eagle displayed Or, four pallets gules.

The golden eagle in Lord Snowdon’s arms comes from the arms attributed to Owain ap Gruffudd, the Welsh King of Gwynedd who lived in the 12th Century. A green banner with three golden eagles was carried by soldiers from Caernarfonshire in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. A flag with three yellow eagles on green was adopted as the county flag of Caernarfonshire in 2012.

The paternal grandparents of Antony Armstrong-Jones came from the historic county of Caernarfonshire in Wales, an area which formed part of the medieval Kingdom of Gwynedd. Caernarfonshire is also where Snowdon is located.

In 1999 the Earl of Snowdon was created Baron Armstrong-Jones, a life peerage, in order to keep his seat in the House of Lords after the Lords reform of 1999. He was a member of the House of Lords until retiring in 2016.

Lord Snowdon married a second time after divorcing Princess Margaret. He leaves behind three children from his two marriages and two children from affairs outside of marriage. He should be remembered as an artist and a champion for disabled people.

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