October 29, 1955
Queen Elizabeth II is in Scotland this week, reports the Los Angeles Times, "to smooth the way" for her sister's marriage to Group Captain Peter Townsend, "unless the Church of England opposition becomes so strong that the wedding may have to take place abroad."
Elizabeth took the "sudden, mysterious trip so that she might drop the word very unofficially," so she would not object to Margaret's marriage in the Church of Scotland, which could take place at Glamis, Margaret's birthplace.
This newest step toward Princess Margaret's marriage to the divorced Group Captain took place after the princess rejected "a suggestion that she could still back out" of the marriage if she wished.
Princess Margaret, 25, met with Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on Thursday, and it is now believed that the Archbishop told the princess, who is third in line to the throne, that the Church will not permit her marriage.
The royal family has turned to the Church of Scotland, which "permit second marriages by the innocent parties in divorce."
Group Captain Peter Townsend divorced his wife, Rosemary, on the grounds of her divorce with John de Laszlo, whom she has since married.
However, Church of England officials have made it clear that if the Church of Scotland allows Margaret's marriage to take place, relations between the two churches will be imperiled. The Church of Scotland will not be able to expect Queen Elizabeth's official approval for the marriage.
Princess Margaret does not want to embarrass her sister, and may discuss with Townsend the possibility of marrying abroad.
The Queen is head of the Church of England, but not the Church of Scotland. She and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, "took off unexpectedly yesterday for a 400-mile train trip to Drumkilbo," where they are staying with the Master of Elphinstone."
Tongues started wagging because the Queen returned to London only two weeks ago after spending the summer in Scotland. The Master of Elphinstone is the brother of Mrs. John Lycett Wills, who hosted Princess Margaret and Townsend at her country home two weeks ago.
Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill is said to be a "secret ally" of the Princess and Townsend. He sent his son-in-law Christopher Soames to meet with Townsend to advise him on how to arrange the marriage, "rather than trying to dissuade him."
It has also been learned that other members of the royal family are "avoiding trying to influence Margaret's decision."