It has to be one of the most unlikely shopping trips ever committed to screen.
In a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce the Queen’s sister coasts into the centre of Peebles in the Borders.
Followed by her toyboy lover, Princess Margaret enters a department store in the town (pop: 8000) and asks a curtseying shop assistant to direct her to the swimming trunks department.
Once there, she looks on as her new beau Roddy Llewellyn – who she went on to stay with for eight years – eventually opts for the briefest of swimming briefs.
They then head back to an outdoor pool party thrown by friends at a nearby mansion.
The scenes from Netflix drama The Crown all sound a bit fanciful – especially as the show has been criticised over its historical accuracy. But, perhaps surprisingly, it appears to be true – well, most it anyway.
Lady Anne Glenconner, who was a Maid of Honour at the Queen’s coronation and Lady In Waiting to Princess Margaret, admits the Princess and Llewellyn first met after she separately invited them both for a long weekend stay at the Glen, near Innerleithen, in the Borders.
She says her husband Colin Tennant – who became Lord Glenconner – introduced Princess Margaret to Llewellyn after she volunteered to go with him to collect the Olympic gold medallist’s son from the train station in Edinburgh.
The couple hit it off, and by the time they arrived at the Glen the Princess had already taken Llewellyn shopping for swimming trunks so he could join the party of friends in their outdoor heated pool.
Writing in her new autobiography – Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown – Lady Glenconner revealed her son Charlie also joined his dad and princess on the 30-mile trip to Edinburgh from Innerleithen to collect Llewellyn.
She said: “They didn’t return for hours.
“Finally I got the call warning me that the car would be arriving in 10 minutes – something the protection officers always did whenever Princess Margaret was due to arrive somewhere.
“I stood outside, ready to greet them at the door, wondering what they had all been up to. When the car pulled up, there were Princess Margaret and Roddy in the back, more or less holding hands.
“Colin explained that they had met him off the train and gone for lunch at a bistro in Edinburgh.
“Princess Margaret and Roddy had immediately clicked, even though Roddy was 17 years younger.
“Charlie then explained, with a twinkle in his eye, that they had taken so long because Princess Margaret had whisked Roddy off shopping to find him some swimming trunks for the pool. With a big grin on his face, Charlie said that the trunks were so tight, they could have been described as budgie smugglers.
“I said to Colin, ‘Oh, gosh, what have we done?’”
The third season Netflix drama, released earlier this month, shows Princess Margaret – played by Helena Bonham Carter – visiting the Tennant family’s Borders home in August 1973 to escape the misery of her crumbling marriage to Tony Armstrong-Jones, played by Ben Daniels.
It uses artistic licence in portraying how the princess and Llewellyn, played by Harry Treadaway, actually met – showing Princess Margaret spotting him across the busy pool before being introduced.
On learning he has no swimming trunks, she insists on taking him shopping to a department store in the nearest town to the Glen – Peebles.
The scenes were not filmed in Scotland.
Lady Glenconner, played by Nancy Carroll in The Crown, doesn’t say whether the real-life shopping trip actually took place in Peebles.
Just three stores in the bustling town sold men’s swimming shorts in the early 70s.
Staff from all three family run businesses say it’s possible Princess Margaret could have visited their stores.
David McGrath, 53, who runs gentleman’s outfitters Graham McGrath, said: “Both my father and grandfather would be working in the shop in 1973.
“If Princess Margaret was bringing Roddy Llewllyn to Peebles from the Glen – or from Edinburgh – then we would be the first shop selling trunks that she would come to. I’ve asked my dad, John, about it and he’s sure Princess Margaret didn’t buy trunks from him.
“If my grandfather served her it’s not necessarily something he would have told anyone about. He would have been very respectful of customer confidentiality.”
Anna Young, 44, whose great-grandfather founded The Castle Warehouse in Peebles 123 years ago, said: “A friend sent us a clip of the episode featuring Princess Margaret’s shopping trip to Peebles and we did wonder, if it was true, whether it might be our store she visited.
“My dad, Ian, and his brother, Sandy, were running the shop then. My dad says Princess Margaret might have come in to buy swimming trunks but it’s not something he remembers.
“Over the years, we have had quite a few famous faces visit our shop while they have been staying at the Glen. Rowan Atkinson used to stay there every New Year and would come into the town.
“The late broadcaster Clive James, who so sadly died last week, was another Glen house-guest we would see.
“Whatever the truth about Princess Margaret’s shopping trip it’s lovely that Netflix are telling the story that she came to Peebles to go shopping. It’s such a popular show – the publicity is great for the town.
“And if any other members of the Royal Family want to come here to buy swimming trunks or anything else, then they will be made very welcome.”
While Veitch’s department store in Peebles closed down in 2007, the name plaque on the impressive building in the town’s high street remains.
Douglas Veitch ran the store in 1973 when Princess Margaret may have visited.
His son Robert, 66, said: “Because of the location of Veitch’s in the centre of the town and the way the building stood out, it’s probable that if Princess Margaret came into Peebles to buy swimming trunks then it would be our store that caught her eye.
“I can’t hand on heart say she did shop there but it’s the most likely place. My late father would be in the shop at the time and he certainly never mentioned it if she did come in but he wasn’t the type of person who would have made a fuss.
“He would probably have treated her just as he would any other customer.
“It was well known in the town that Princess Margaret was a regular visitor at the Glen – it was her hideaway – and Roddy Llewellyn too.
“If The Crown shines a light on Princess Margaret’s link to the Glen and has her shopping in Peebles, then that can only be good for the town.”