Fearing the Worst
But her efforts may be too little too late. On Jan. 3, the palace announced that Margaret, now 70, may have suffered a minor stroke. A week later she was admitted to a private hospital in London for what was termed "severe loss of appetite." "When I spoke to her a couple of weeks ago, she was low, but determined to get better," says her friend, Lord St. John of Fawsley.
The princess's illness first surfaced in December, when she failed to attend Christmas Day church services with the rest of the royal family. Exacerbating her physical woes: a 1999 accident in which the once flamboyant Margaret, who had suffered a stroke a year earlier, badly scalded her feet in extremely hot bathwater. The incident "was desperately depressing for her," says her biographer Christopher Warwick. "At one point she said to me, 'I just wish I wasn't in continuous pain.' "
Friends hope that Margaret, who is now eating small meals, will overcome her latest health crisis. Yet the princess, divorced since 1978 from the Earl of Snowdon (the couple have two children and three grandchildren), "doesn't have the same stamina as her mother [the Queen Mum, 100] and sister," says Vickers. "This is rotten luck for her."