Elizabeth's naughty little sister

The Establishment closed ranks in an attempt to stop the making of a television documentary about the life of Princess Margaret, which will be shown on Tuesday, according to the programme makers, writes Michael Streeter.

Some even feared they were being bugged because of the timing of some "planted" counterattacks, including a highly critical story in a tabloid newspaper just days before they began interviewing potential contributors.

The Princess's Private Secretary, Lord Napier, told Belinda Giles, the producer of the Secret Lives programme, that parts of Princess Margaret's life didn't bear "close examination" and in effect instructed that the documentary should not go ahead.

The programme describes how the Princess was a "disappointment" from birth because she was not a boy, and that her position as younger sister to the heir to the throne cast a shadow which has endured throughout her life. It also casts doubt on whether she ever really loved Group Captain Peter Townsend.