PRINCESS Margaret had a relationship with an aristocratic jazz pianist

while she was married to Lord Snowdon, it was claimed yesterday.

Intimate letters alleged to be from the Queen's sister to Robin

Douglas-Home, the nephew of the Tory Prime Minister Sir Alec, were

printed in the News of the World.

It claimed that Princess Margaret and Mr Douglas-Home began a

relationship just before Christmas 1966 after meeting at London's

Society restaurant. At the time, Princess Margaret was 37 and her

seven-year marriage to Lord Snowdon was on the rocks, the report said.

The newspaper claimed she ended the relationship in March 1967,

telling him she had to remain with her husband for the sake of their

children David, then five, and Sarah, aged three. Her marriage was

dissolved in 1978.

Eighteen months after the relationship ended, Mr Douglas-Home

committed suicide. He took an overdose of pills on October 15, 1968,

aged 36.

The News of the World based its report on extracts from a book,

Margaret: The Untold Story, by Noel Botham, being published on May 30.

Buckingham Palace yesterday refused to comment on the publication of

the letters, but no attempt was made to deny their authenticity. A

Palace spokesman said: ''It is an old story and I don't wish to discuss


The letters allegedly reveal the strength of feelings between the

Princess and Mr Douglas-Home, whose former wife Sandra went on to marry

the now Home Secretary, Mr Michael Howard.

A spokesman for Mr Howard and his wife said there was no comment from

either of them.

In a ''goodbye note'', in which the Princess allegedly told him she

could not see him any more, she wrote: ''Our love has the passionate

scent of new-mown grass and lilies about it.

''Not many people are lucky enough to have known any love like this. I

feel so happy that it has happened to me. Can I make you happy from a

distance? I think we can just by being there for the other.

''Promise you will never give up, that you will go on encouraging me

to make the marriage a success, and that given a good and safe chance, I

will try and come back to you one day.

''I daren't at the moment. You are good and loyal, think that I am

too, whatever I may seem to do or say.''

The letter is signed: ''All my love my darling. M.''

The newspaper claimed that Mr Douglas-Home was a good friend and

confidant to the Princess, but that their relationship changed one night

at Kensington Palace, when he took her hand and she did not resist.

They spent a weekend together in February 1967 at Douglas-Home's house

in West Chiltingdon, West Sussex, the newspaper said.

According to the News of the World, Mr Douglas-Home revealed the

secrets of the weekend to his ''close friend'' Noel Botham.

They played the piano, listened to music and talked. One night they

drove to London for a concert and returned to Sussex.

He dropped her back at Kensington Palace the following Monday, after

which she sent a letter thanking him for a ''perfect weekend'', the

newspaper said.

The Princess allegedly wrote: ''Thank you for the comfort of your

home, which gave one peace of mind. Thank you for the care and trouble

you took to make everything delicious, which restored one's heart.

''Thank you for your music, which mended the nerve ends. Thank you for

making me live again.''

But after a trip in the United States with her husband, Princess

Margaret phoned Mr Douglas-Home to tell him they would not be able to

meet again alone and that she had to work to save her marriage, the

paper said.

It was 12 years earlier that she renounced her intention to marry

Group Captain Peter Townsend, a divorced man, after opposition from the

Church of England.

Around the time of the break-up of the relationship, Mr Douglas-Home

broke down in tears during a TV interview with Alan Whicker for BBC2's

Whicker's World on the subject Stress of Divorce.

The programme was broadcast, although viewers were unaware of the true

reason behind his tears, the paper claimed.

Eton-educated Mr Douglas-Home, who served in the Coldstream Guards

before becoming a professional pianist, had a reputation as a womaniser,

who liked gambling and heavy drinking, the newspaper alleged.

An MP said yesterday the Princess should be allowed to live her life

in private ''without retrospective pressures''.

Harry Greenway, Conservative MP for Ealing North, commented: ''It is

very sad for her to be faced with what may or may not be true after such

a long period of time.

''She should surely be allowed to continue her life in the private way

she does. My view is, whether true or false, let it be and leave her to

lead the dignified and useful life she leads and to which she is


* The Princess spent most of last week in the United States on a visit

to Washington, DC, where she attended a gala performance by the Royal

Ballet of which she is president.

' Not many people are lucky enough to have known any love like this. I

feel so happy that it has happened to me. Can I make you happy from a

distance? I think we can just by being there for the other '

Letter allegedly by Princess Margaret