In the season three finale of The Crown, viewers visited Princess Margaret at her home on the island of Mustique. Lush yet understated—and with an enviable pool to boot—the setting was enough to distract many a real estate enthusiast from the episode’s more juicy and substantive plot lines. Now, in season four, which debuted on Netflix this weekend, characters return to the exclusive Grenadine island. Over the years, AD has paid its fair share of visits to the tropical destination, featuring an assortment of vacation homes in the process. More striking still is the fact that Architectural Digest featured Princess Margaret’s retreat not once but twice over the years.
“Once the building started, it went very quickly,” the princess told the magazine in the October 1979 issue. “It was great fun to do, though difficult at a distance. I had to do it all from England. Oliver drew the house, but I said to him that I was going to do the inside. I’d always longed to build a house—all one’s own ideas about cozy corners.”
Writer David Pryce-Jones observed at one point that “the land chosen by the princess is wonderfully open.” And yet, for readers, the decor was surely of equal focus. The house itself was designed by Oliver Messel, an influential architectural set designer in his own right and the uncle of Margaret’s husband, Lord Snowden. To his “chagrin,” AD later noted, the princess put herself in charge of the decor. “Things like pictures don’t like being out here,” she memorably told the magazine in 1979. “But I put up a portrait of the queen for people from abroad to see it’s an English house.” (That final sentence was apparently delivered with a smile.)
Pictures of the princess’s estimable sister aside, the house included additional features that many would be excused for considering traditionally British. Chintzes galore? Check. A collection of porcelain plates? Check. But the blue-and-white color scheme was decidedly beachy, save for the bright orange color Margaret decided to make her own bedroom.