Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Lady Sarah Chatto celebrates her 60th birthday

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 May 1, 2024

Today is Lady Sarah Chatto's 60th birthday.  She is the fourth and final 1964 royal baby.  The other three are James Ogilvy (February 29),  the Duke of Edinburgh (March 10),  and Lady Helen Taylor (April 28).  One newspaper wrote: "The Princess's baby completes the quartet of royal babies expected this year."

Lady Sarah is the second and younger child of HRH Princess Margaret Rose and Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon.  Princess Margaret was the younger sister of the late Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September 2022.

Princess Margaret gave birth at Kensington Palace.  Her infant daughter weighed 6lbs 2 ozs.  According to the bulletin at 8:29 a.m., mother and baby were making "good progress."   When the doctors told Lord Snowdon about the birth of his daughter, he responded: "It's marvelous news!"  He said to a member of the household: "She looks a super baby."

He joined members of the household and staff, and "toasted the birth in champagne.

The baby's first visitors were her grandmothers, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the Countess of Rosse, and her maternal aunt,  Queen Elizabeth II.

The new baby was born seventh in line to the British throne.   Her older brother David, who was styled as Viscount Linley, was two and a half years old.  Although it was not known then, Lord Snowdon was also the father of another, daughter, Polly Fry, who was born on May 28, 1960, when the earl and Princess Margaret were on their honeymoon.

[Polly's mother, Camilla, was married to Jeremy Fry, a member of the Fry chocolate family, who had an extramarital affair with Tony Armstrong-Jones -- while he was dating Princess Margaret --.  Polly was raised as Jeremy's daughter, but it was not until 2004 that a DNA test confirmed Lord Snowdon's paternity." Sarah also has a half-brother, Jasper Cable-Alexander, born in 1998.  Jasper's mother, Melanie Cable-Alexander had an affair with Tony during his second marriage.]

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Princess Margaret's daughter was baptized on July 13, 1964.  The ceremony took place in Buckingham Palace's private chapel.   The infant "received the names of Sarah Frances Elizabeth.  Her godparents were Mrs. Eric Penn, Mrs. Jocelyn Stephens, Miss Marigold Bridgeman, the Earl of Westmoreland, and Mr. Anthony Barton.  Unlike her older brother, David, whose godparents included Queen Elizabeth, Lady Sarah did not have any royal godparents.

Her name was announced on May 26th.  The name Sarah was chosen because "it is the one that they liked."  Frances was for Lord Snowdon's grandmother and Elizabeth "after the Queen."

Their mother was a princess, a daughter of a king but her royal rank did not pass to her children, who were styled as children of an earl.  When asked about her children's position, Princess Margaret said: "My children are not royal; they just happen to have the Queen for their aunt."

Princess Margaret was "never overtly maternal," but she was "very good with her children, very fair and very disciplined."  But Nanny Veronica Sumner spent the most time with David and Sarah.  She was described as "frightfully grand," who taught "hauteur instead of humility."  She was "formally retired" in early 1977.  Christopher Warwick wrote in Princess Margaret: A Life of Contrasts that despite "her narrow ways, Miss Sumner did at least act as a buffer between the children when they were at home from school and the misery that their parents' marriage had become in its death throes."

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 One of Sarah's first public appearances was as the bridesmaid at her cousin Princess Anne's wedding. 

  After attending nursery with Prince Edward at Buckingham Palace, she was enrolled in Francis Holland School.  One fellow student remembered Sarah saying "My aunt is the Queen," but no one believed her.  

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In 1975 she and David were sent to the progressive Bedales Co-educational School in Hampshire.  It was the only co-educational boarding school.  "To be a Bedalian means to modify your accent and not chase off to balls in London in the holidays. Sarah fits in with that much more than David, who's more social, and that's not typical."

Bedales was recommended by a family friend who advised Sarah's parents that Francis Holland "might be a little too narrow for someone like Sarah who would meet all sorts of people in her life."  The headmistress at Francis Holland was not keen on Sarah changing schools as she heard that "people ate off each other's plates."  According to a Tatler profile of Sarah in 1994, her parents "loved the idea."

The headmaster of the middle school said Sarah was "always immensely sweet and very popular," although one student disagreed with this assessment.  She described Sarah as "always on her own, to the extent that we made a special effort to be nice to her.  She was very square, short, and a bit dump; neither she nor her brother in the slightest bit attractive."

It was at Bedales when she and her brother were told about their parents' separation.  Although Margaret and Tony were barely talking to each other, they went to Bedales together "to tell them jointly of their parting."  The couple's separation agreement included £100,000 from the Princess for her husband to purchase a home, which would be held in trust for their two children.  He agreed to continue to split the school fees with his ex-wife.

In September 1982, she began her art studies with the Foundation course Camberwell College of Art.

Although Lady Sarah would never undertake royal duties, she was, according to a Woman's Realm profile in May 1982, "very much like the Queen with a happy nature that is also tenacious and determined. She has both a liking and a need for a stable background."

Lady Sarah's home life was not stable.  Her parents' marriage crumbled quickly.  Margaret and Tony had numerous extramarital affairs.  The Princess' first lover was Lady Sarah's godfather, wine producer Anthony Barton.  In 1973, Margaret began"her most significant affair " with a gardener Rodney Llewellyn, 17 years her junior.  Three years later, on March 19, 1976,  Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon announced their separation.  The divorce was finalized on December 15, 1978.

She has always been close to her first cousin, King Charles III.  She was one of the bridesmaids at his first wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and one of Prince Harry's godparents.  She is also godmother to Lady Rose Gilman, the youngest child of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.  

Lady Sarah loved art and drawing and, during visits to Sandringham, she would quietly sketch wildflowers.   In June 1982, she became the first member of the Royal since Lady Patricia Ramsay (Princess Patricia of Connaught) to have her work on display at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.   Two of her "still lives, a small Impressionistic oil painting of a vase and a similar charcoal drawing" were selected from more than 13,000 submissions.  Her father told the Daily Express: "I'm thrilled about the summer exhibition, but I've promised Sarah not to see her pictures until I go along with her."

Anne de Courcy wrote in her biography of Lord Snowdon that Snowdon "greatly admired  Sarah's painting."

Lord Snowdon described his daughter as a "conscientious and decided worker who always has a pencil or brush in hand ... even when staying the weekend with him at his Sussex home."

"It's too early to say whether she'll become a full-time painter when her course finishes.  But she certainly has the talent to make a go of it."

In the profile, the writer noted Lady Sarah was "domesticated and home-loving and will make somebody 'a marvellous wife.' "  What was also noted by the writer was how Lady Sarah had "weathered the storms of parents' divorce remarkably well."   Lady Sarah and her brother found comfort "in several homes in the school holidays with the Queen providing loving and understanding support, particularly to her niece who, emotionally, missed her father greatly."

 Lord Snowdon, a noted society photographer took the photos for Lady Sarah's eighteenth birthday. When she was 19, she took a year off from Camberwell, spending time working with her father in India.    Lord Snowdon told Nigel Dempster: "We shall be sightseeing for a while, then Sarah will be getting  some experience of photography by helping me."   He added:  "Sarah is treating this year as a kind of sabbatical and she's working towards fabric design."

She also assisted her father who was "shooting the stills" for the film Passage to India, directed by David Lean.  She also did "oddjobbing"  for film producer, Lord Brabourne,  who was married to Lord Mountbatten's elder daughter, Lady Patricia.   It was in India, while she was working as a part-time wardrobe assistant in the Merchant Ivory film, Heat and Dust, where Lady Sarah met the man she would marry.  Daniel Chatto had a small role in the film.  

In June 1984, the Daily Mail featured an article on the "Liberated Royal Ladies,"  Lady Helen and Lady Sarah, now both 20 years old, the "Queeny-boppers," whose style of fashion was "by not dressing the Diana way."   

After her gap year, Lady Sarah did not return to Camberwell.  In September 1984, she began a three-year program at Middlesex College, where she majored in textiles and fashion.  Peter Green, the dean of art and design, said Lady Sarah wanted "to be treated as an ordinary student and we will do our best to fulfill that wish."

The program was competitive as only one in six applicants got in.  This was a BA Honours program, and Lady Sarah, like all students, was assessed twice a year.  Lady Sarah was determined to have a career in the arts.

In the years that followed their first meeting in India, Sarah and Daniel were in the same social circles.  She admired his "charm and sophistication" but he was seeing someone else at the time,  She dated Monagesque art expert Gerard Faggionatio, but that relationship ended after several months. Faggionato also dated her cousin, Lady Helen Windsor. The following year she dated Cosmo Fry, the son of Jeremy Fry, but she was "gently but firmly told that her affair had to end because he had married before.  Cosmo's first marriage to Lady Cosima Vane-Tempest-Stewart ended in divorce in 1986.

Lord Snowdon had an affair with Cosmo's mother, Camilla, and his sister, Polly, is Lady Sarah's half-sister.

A Fry family friend told the Mail: "At the time she said she felt some of the pain that her mother must have suffered over Group Captain Peter Townsend."    Uh-huh?

Lady Sarah and her cousin Lady Helen Windsor often went out on a "round of parties, night-clubbing and champagne weekends in the country."   Lady Sarah did not enjoy this and was bored by it all.  There were many lonely nights in the £325,000 South Kensington house her mother had purchased for her.  Daniel was a five-minute drive away, and soon, he became a "regular companion - and a shoulder to lean on and a confidant."

The relationship grew stronger when in 1987, Daniel broke up with his girlfriend Sally Turner.  

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The late Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of the first to learn about Lady Sarah's new boyfriend.  Lady Sarah had been her chief bridesmaid, and later, one of Prince Harry's godparents.

One of Lady Sarah's friends told the Mail: "Daniel came like a breath of fresh air into her life.  Diana is delighted that Sarah and Daniel have the same interests.  They both enjoy the theatre, ballet, opera, and browsing around art galleries.  But they are not a high-brow couple."

"They zip around town in Daniel's Land Rover and Sarah's racy Ford Fiesta taking in clubs like Tramp and the Hippodrome where they are in the mood for dancing and partying."

Daniel Chatto St George Sproule was born on April 22, 1957, the son of Rosalind and Tom Chatto St. George Sproule.   Daniel's father was an actor Tom Chatto who died in 1982.  His mother was the noted theatrical agent Ros Chatto.  In 1987, Daniel legally changed his name to Daniel St. George Chatto.

Lady Sarah did not complete her studies at Middlesex  due to the "aggression of a group of royal-baiting fellow students."  One friend told the Today newspaper:  "They gave her an incredibly hard time at the Poly. It was mostly a group of students who were so unkind that she didn't complete her course.

  "She told me quite a few of the students decided not to like her whatever she did."

Daniel gave up his acting career to become a painter, which allowed him to spend more time with Sarah.  

"It took him a long time to realize what he wanted to do but he really wants to be a painter,  I think he only did acting because he was extremely good-looking and because of his mother," a friend said.

She transferred to the Royal Academy, where "she dropped hangers-on and sought out those genuine enough to appreciate her artistic abilities for what they were."   She spent more than six years at the Royal Academy although she still was concerned about "Royal-hoarders scooping up her work.

Lady Sarah spent eight years at the Royal Academy Schools, receiving Undergraduate and Postgraduate diplomas in 1988 and 1991, respectively.  In 1990, she had her first exhibition at the Cadogan Contemporary art gallery in Chelsea, where one top art critic said "She is not to be sniffed at.  The pictures have great charm and the paintings are with their money whoever they are by and as she gets older she will improve."

Lady Sarah and the "achingly good-looking" Daniel Chatto announced their engagement on May 5, 1994. Daniel gave his fiancee an "early 19th-century diamond cluster ring with table-cut stones surrounded by a red-gold shank chased with roses."   The ring was chosen at Wartski's, the royal jeweler.   Lord Snowdon took the official engagement photos.

The long-awaited engagement, according to the PA "sets the seal on what many friends see as an ideal match in which Daniel's Bohemian lifestyle and beliefs fit well with Sarah's love of art and fashion."

The newly engaged couple wanted a "quiet ceremony for family and close friends."

The wedding was on July 14, 1994, at a "small City of London church of St. Stephen Walbrook," near St. Paul's.  The couple chose the church run by the founder of the Samaritans, Chad Varah. 

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Sarah, who professed "to have very little interest in fashion, looked stunning in a dress designed by Jasper Conran."  Her bridesmaids were her half-sister, Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones, her cousin Zara Phillips, and her friend Tara Singh Noble.  

The reception was held at Clarence House, then the residence of the Queen Mother.   The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in India, where they first met.

A year after her marriage, Lady Sarah gave an interview to the Sunday Telegraph shortly after her first one-woman exhibition at the Redfern Gallery.   Her life, she said was a "simple, ordered life, free of public constraints, her birthright".  It is "something you have to live with, and the older you get, I suppose the easier it will become.  I wanted to paint so much, and because  one's life is in a studio or in the landscape I suppose that helps as well."

She said she works on "several pictures at the same time. Each one takes a long time and it's getting longer and longer."  One of the main influences on her life was her grandmother, the Queen Mother. "She just taught one how to look. She doesn't miss anything when she's looking at things.  She hasn't got any of my paintings, but she always wanted to come and look at the progression, and she has been to the exhibition."

The couple's first son was born at the Portland Hospital on July 28, 1996.  Three weeks later, Kensington Palace announced the name of Sarah and Daniel's first child: Samuel David Benedict.  He was baptized in the Chapel Royal at Windsor Castle, wearing the royal family's christening gown first worn in 1840 by Queen Victoria's eldest child, Princess Victoria.   Lord Snowdon took a formal portrait of the Queen Mother holding her newest great-grandchild.

A second son, Arthur Robert Nathaniel, was born at the Portland Hospital on February 5, 1999.  His names were announced on March 28, 1999.

In 2002,  Lady Sarah lost her mother on February 9 and then her grandmother on March 30. A year later, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, she would not elaborate on "disruptions," but the deaths of her mother and grandmother affected her deeply. She "sat with the Queen at the Queen Mother's deathbed."  She was also tasked with sorting through her mother's possessions.  At the time her sons were aged six and four.

"With parenthood, your life changes completely, in the nicest possible way.  You have to juggle a bit, you have to be disciplined with the time, which I thought initially was going to be quite difficult. At the moment I just have the mornings to work -- and I just have to use that as best I can."

She also acknowledged art "may have come from both sides. Although I think you have to know if it is there for it to come out.  On my father's side, there were painters in the family as well, and designers and my mother did a bit of fiddling about too, I think."

Lady Sarah was at school when she decided she wanted to be a painter.  "That's what I really wanted to do, and I wasn't much good at anything else.

"I try to go to the studio every morning, but other bits of life slip in as well," which explains the small number of exhibitions of her work.  She acknowledged being a member of the Royal Family "is something you have to live with.

"I suppose my ambition is just to carry on as best I can and get better and better."

She and her brother were able to pursue their careers thanks to trust funds set up by their mother.

In 2004, Lady Sarah was named Vice President of the Royal Ballet.  Her mother was the Royal Ballet's first president.  The appointment was made "in recognition of her own interest and as a compliment and acknowledgment of the much-valued support of HRH The Princess Margaret.

"As a child, Lady Sarah was brought to many performances at the Royal Opera House by her mother, the late Princess Margaret, and inherited her mother's great love and enthusiasm for the ballet.  We look forward very much to her continuing involvement with the whole organization."

She has a close circle of friends, including Catherine Goodman, a fellow painter, and Katherine Brooks.  Goodman, a descendant of Grand Duchess Catherine Mikhailovna of Russia, is the co-founder with King Charles III of the Royal Drawing School.  Goodman is represented by Hauser & Wirth, where Princess Eugenie (as Eugenie York) is a director.  Lady Brooks is one of Queen Camilla's Lady Companions and the daughter of Lady Susan Hussey.

Since 1995, Sarah Armstrong-Jones has been represented by the Redfern Gallery.  She has never cashed in on her royal connections, using her name, but not the courtesy title of Lady, as an artist.  Charles who shares "her love of watercolors," has doted on her for years.  The late Queen Mother considered Lady Sarah as one of "my young friends."  She was closer to her stepmother, Lucy, and half-sister, Lady Frances than her brother David.    Lady Sarah is one of Frances' godparents.

Lady Sarah and her family live in a Kensington terrace house.  She also owns a Georgian farmhouse in Midhurst, Sussex, that she inherited from the late art collector Simon Sainsbury.  Several articles state Sainsbury was her godfather.  He was not. 

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Samuel and Arthur Chatto attended Eton College.  Both graduated from Edinburgh University,.  Sam's degree is in history of art and Art's is in geography.

 Arthur served as a page to Queen Elizabeth II from 2009 through 2015.  Samuel.  He is now serving in the Royal Marines.  

In January 2020, Arthur was preparing to row around the United Kingdom, as a part of GB Row Challenge 2020.   He and three university friends began their "epic charity effort to raise £150,000 by rowing around the UK" started their journey on July 8, after "carefully self-isolating as a team." The team was raising funds for the British Red Cross and Just one Ocean.'"   They completed the journey on August 16, raising £21,059 for the two charities.  

Art is also playing a role in Samuel's career.  He is a ceramicist who works from his studio in West Sussex and is also a qualified yoga instructor.  

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I hope you like this article, which required a bit of research.  Perhaps you can buy me a cup of coffee

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