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British PM: Princess Margaret Will be Remembered 'With a Lot of Affection' - 2002-02-09

The body of Britain's Princess Margaret has been moved from the King Edward VII Hospital in London to Kensington Palace for a period of private mourning by family members. Early next week, she will be transferred to the Queen's Chapel at St. James's Palace. Then, later in the week, a private funeral will be held in St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. She will be laid to rest next to her father, King George VI.

High-spirited and unconventional, Princess Margaret did it her way. And it was her individuality that will be remembered most by the British.

"We heard the news this morning. We were just deeply shocked, especially the Queen's Jubilee year," says a woman. "She has been poorly for so long now that probably it is a relief in a way," adds another one. "But it does make you feel very, very sad."

Coming to terms with her role was never easy for Princess Margaret. On the one hand she was always loyal and fervently supported her older sister, Queen Elizabeth. But there was a fun-loving, free-spirited side to her as well.

In many ways, she was the Princess Diana of her generation. In the '50s and '60s, she loved going out on the town, rubbing shoulders with the showbiz set. But heavy smoking and drinking would take their toll in her later years.

In the mid-80s Princess Margaret had part of a lung removed following a cancer scare, and a series of strokes over the past few years all but took her out of the public spotlight.

But it was the intelligent, funny, at times mischievous young princess that people are today remembering.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair led the praise. He learned of the death of Princess Margaret while visiting several western African states. "I know the whole country will be deeply saddened by Princess Margaret's death," he said. "She will be remembered with a lot of affection. Before she was ill in the last few years, she gave a great deal of service to the country and our thoughts are obviously with the queen, the queen mother and with all the royal family at this difficult time."

Princess Margaret in the end was rare combination of the traditional and the untraditional. But as constitutional expert Lord St. John of Fawsley says, she will be mostly remembered for "her sense of humor and proportion."

Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth the Second, dead at 71.