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EDITIONS
Saturday, 9 February, 2002, 08:44 GMT
The charitable princess
Princess Margaret accepting a cheque for the NSPCC
Princess Margaret accepts a cheque for the NSPCC
Since the days of her earliest public engagements, Princess Margaret was more than happy to muck in, either in her Sea Ranger or Girl Guide uniform.

It was not a duty, her devotion came naturally: she had asked her parents if she could become a Brownie at the tender age of seven.

Her father agreed, as long as she did not wear "those hideous long black stockings".

Princess Margaret in a Sea Ranger uniform
She was a keen member of the Sea Rangers

Her early enthusiasm turned into a lifelong commitment - she became president of the Guide Association in 1965.

But, as well as attending the public events, there was a hidden side to her work.

The princess would often invite a group of girls to tea at Kensington Palace just to find out how they were doing; they always left in amazement that she took such an interest in their lives.

The health and welfare of children was also high on her priority list - at the age of 23 she was appointed president of the NSPCC and her work for the charity continued for the rest of her life.

She found it difficult to reconcile herself to the fact that physical and sexual mistreatment of children is so prevalent.

Princess Margaret is presented with a bouquet
The princess attended many charity functions

But she certainly did not shy away from visiting the charity's more difficult projects.

Often, she asked to speak to abused children on their own. Her role as a mother helped her to relate as a human being rather than a princess.

She once observed that some people imagined she lay on the sofa all day waiting for the evening to come and the next party to begin.

Although Princess Margaret was often criticised for doing less than other royals, she was the Grand President of St John Ambulance Brigade and president of 11 other organisations.

In fact her A to Z of patronages - 41 in all - started at architects and ended with zebras.


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Princess Margaret 1930-2002
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