The f inal humiliation
Snowdon’s £3.2m will leaves nothing to the lovechild he ignored for decades
IT WAS a society sensation that would have rocked the Royal Family if it had come to light at the time.
But it seems that even in death Lord Snowdon remained in denial about his secret lovechild who was born while he was on honeymoon with Princess Margaret in 1960.
Probate records show that Lord Snowdon, who died in January aged 86, completely cut his illegitimate daughter Polly Fry out of his £3.2million will, splitting the estate mainly between his four other children – including son Jasper Cable-Alexander who was also born out of wedlock.
In 2004 Miss Fry persuaded Lord Snowdon to take a DNA test after persistent rumours that he – not his friend Jeremy Fry who had brought Polly up as his own – was her biological father.
The saliva test confirmed that he had fathered Polly with Jeremy’s wife Camilla. Despite this Lord Snowdon, who had spent decades refusing to admit the secret, showed no recognition of his first-born child in his will signed in 2006. Miss Fry is not even mentioned.
The high-society photographer born Antony Armstrong-Jones, whose stormy marriage to Princess Margaret ended in 1978 and was dogged by tales of adultery, alcohol and drugs, left the bulk of his estate to his two children with the Queen’s sister and his daughter with second wife Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones.
Lady Frances, 38, Lord Snowdon’s only child from his marriage to Miss Lindsay-Hogg, was left all his personal chattels. He also left a fund of £250,000 to make payments to his youngest child Jasper, 19, until he is 25.
Jasper, born in 1998, was the result of an affair with Melanie Cable-Alexander, an editor at Country Life magazine. The revelation about the birth of the love child led to the end of Lord Snowdon’s second marriage.
The will splits shares in his company Armstrong-Jones between David, now the 2nd Earl of Snowdon, and Lady Sarah Chatto, his children with Princess Margaret, and Lady Frances, a designer.
He also left a legacy of £25,000 to his one-time lover Emily Hirst, as well as a lump sum to Miss Lindsay-Hogg. This unknown amount was decided by a judge as part of their 2000 divorce. Lord Snowdon left the rest of his fortune on trust for children David, Sarah and Frances to share equally.
His oldest child Polly was born on May 28, 1960. Jeremy Fry, the man she grew up believing was her father, was an inventor, engineer and member of the famous Fry chocolate family.
In 1955 he married Camilla Grinling, a childhood friend of Lord Snowdon, and when Polly was born the newly-ennobled earl accepted the couple’s invitation to be her godfather.
Mr Fry had been due to be best man at Lord Snowdon’s marriage to Princess Margaret at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 1960, but pulled out at the last minute.
In 1967 the Frys divorced after Camilla discovered her husband had been having an affair with Frances Chadwick, wife of sculptor Lynn Chadwick.
Frances gassed herself before the divorce petition came to court. Camilla later married business- man John Fairbairn and was granted custody of the Fry children, including Polly.
She had a further set of twins by Mr Fairbairn and settled in Sussex, where she died in 2000. Mr Fry died in 2005.
When Lord Snowdon finally agreed to a paternity test and accepted he was Miss Fry’s father, he is understood to have invited her to call him ‘Pops’ but made clear their future relationship depended on her silence. This had reportedly left Miss Fry in turmoil as she was desperate to be officially recognised as his daughter and had hoped to grow closer to her half-siblings.
The 57-year-old, an interior designer and photographer, recently split from her husband of nearly 30 years Barnaby Higson, 61, a businessman with whom she has five children.
For years, they had shared a sprawling rectory in the Somerset market town of Frome but following their divorce, Miss Fry sold the ten-bedroom, £1.6million family home.
Writing in 2008 about discovering Lord Snowdon, not Mr Fry, was her father, she said: ‘Finding out at the age of 45 that the man I had idolised and put on a pedestal higher than Nelson’s Column since I was a small child was not in fact my father was a hard burden to bear.
‘Rather than being twisted with guilt and shame at what I’ve done in uncovering a secret that I should have been told long ago, I can just carry on being little old me, the person I am today.’
‘She was left in turmoil’
Call me Pops: Lord Snowdon with Polly Fry in 2006, two years after the DNA test that confirmed rumours he was her father
Hiding a secret: Snowdon with Margaret and their children in 1965
Recognised in the will: Son Jasper with his mother