If you love The Daily Beast’s royal coverage, then we hope you’ll enjoy The Royalist, a members-only series for Beast Inside. Become a member to get The Royalist in your inbox every Sunday.
The Queen is facing yet more family heartbreak following the announcement that her beloved nephew David Linley, the furniture-making eldest son of her late sister Princess Margaret, is to divorce Serena, his wife of 25 years.
The Daily Mail reported a spokesman for the couple saying: “The Earl and Countess of Snowdon have amicably agreed that their marriage has come to an end and that they shall be divorced.
“They ask that the press respect their privacy and that of their family.”
The latest royal bombshell comes just a week after the Queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, announced he was splitting from his wife, Autumn, and helps mark 2020 as another terrible year for the royals.
David and Serena married in 1993 and have two children, the young Viscount, Charles Armstrong-Jones, 20, and Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, 17. David inherited the title Earl of Snowdon on the death of his photographer father, Tony Snowdon, in January 2017.
David Linley, as he likes to be known professionally, is 21st in line to the throne but as a grandson of George VI is in the inner circle of royalty. He is a frequent guest at Sandringham and Balmoral and a good friend of his cousin Prince Charles.
The Queen was said to be “saddened” by the news of his marital breakup today.
Despite being enormously wealthy (Serena’s father, Viscount Petersham, is a big London landowner, and David famously sold Les Jolies Eaux, his mother Princess Margaret’s home on the Caribbean island of Mustique, for $3m in 2000 to a venture capitalist), the Linleys were famed for their rather modest lifestyle, with David often spotted cycling around London in a yellow hi-vis vest.
A source told the Daily Mail that no one else was involved in the split, adding: “Serena spends most of her time in Gloucestershire. He lives in Kensington. It’s been a slow drift apart. I think the impetus for the split is with her but she is very sad about it.
“It is going to be tough for David. Everyone is surprised. Even if things weren’t perfect between them, they are both very family oriented. Their main focus now will be on ensuring that their two children and them remain a family unit even if they are no longer living together as a couple.”
The Linley divorce will be another bitter blow for the Queen, with the monarchy still reeling from Prince Andrew’s poor handling of his involvement with Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s dramatic decision to quit the royal family last month.
The Linleys own a 19th-century French hunting lodge, which they bought in 1998. It was where the Duchess of Cambridge was staying when she was photographed sunbathing topless.