In another blow for Queen Elizabeth II, her nephew, David the Earl of Snowdon, and his wife, Serena the Countess of Snowdon, said Monday they’re divorcing, making them the second royal couple in a week to announce a marital split.
The news came in a statement issued by the couple saying they have “amicably agreed that their marriage has come to an end and that they shall be divorced” after more than 25 years and two children, according to The Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard and a host of other British media.
As is customary, they asked the media for privacy. USA TODAY reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment.
Last week, the queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, 42, and his wife, the former Autumn Kelly, 41, announced they were splitting after 12 years of marriage and two children. Phillips is the son of the queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne, and her first husband, Mark Phillips.
David Armstrong-Jones, 58, is a member of the royal family, though far removed in the line of succession, and has always been close to the queen. Unlike his royal cousins, he makes his living outside “The Firm,” as the royal family is called, by running a bespoke furniture-making business known as Linley.
The earl is the son of the late Princess Margaret, the queen’s beloved younger sister, who died in 2002, and her husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, a commoner, society photographer and playboy whom she married in 1960.
The queen made him Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley at the time of the marriage. They divorced in 1978.
Their son David had the title Viscount Linley while he was growing up, until his father’s death in 2017, when David became the second Earl Snowdon. David’s younger sister is Lady Sarah Chatto.
Snowdon married Serena Stanhope, 49, a daughter of an earl, in St. Margaret’s Church next to Westminster Abbey in London on Oct. 8, 1993. Their two children are Charles Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley, 20, and Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, 17.
Snowdon grew up in Kensington Palace in an atmosphere that blended royal and traditional with bohemian and artsy. He told Vanity Fair in an interview in 2017 that his upbringing is reflected in the furniture he has fashioned since he founded his firm in 1982.
“I’m a maker, not a designer,” he said.
In a family where divorce was once considered an abiding scandal, the marital woes of the queen’s close relatives are notable, especially since she and her husband, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, have been married 72 years.
Princess Margaret was prevented from marrying her first love in 1953 because he was divorced; when Margaret and her husband split, she was first senior member of the royal family to divorce since 1901. In 1936, Edward VIII abdicated his throne because he was prevented from marrying twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.
Of the queen’s four children, three have been divorced, including Prince Charles and his first wife, the late Princess Diana, whose acrimonious split led to no end of trauma for all involved. Peter Phillips was the first of her eight grandchildren to marry and now is the first to divorce.
The Snowdons spent Christmas at Sandringham with the queen and were seen walking to church with other relatives. Earlier in December, Snowdon biked from his London home to Buckingham Palace to attend the queen’s annual Christmas lunch for the extended royal family.
During her annual Christmas broadcast in December, the queen, 93, referred to the “bumpy” year of 2019: Prince Philip, 98, narrowly escaped death or injury in a frightening car wreck that was his fault. Her second son, Prince Andrew the Duke of York, was compelled to step away from royal duties in the aftermath of a disastrous media interview about his former friendship with a convicted American sex offender.
Her grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Duchess Meghan of Sussex, the American divorcee and former actress, publicly complained about withering critical media coverage in Britain and also announced they had filed separate lawsuits against three tabloids over that coverage.
But 2020 could be shaping up to be just as bumpy for the royal family: Most shocking of all, Harry and Meghan announced in January they were so fed up they were abandoning their roles as senior working royals, moving to North America with their baby, Archie (the queen’s eighth great-grandchild), and becoming financially independent.
The Sussexes, however, are not getting divorced.