IRISH hell-raising actor Peter O’Toole and Princess Margaret were lovers, according to astonishing claims in a new book.
The queen’s sister and the son of a Galway bookmaker allegedly enjoyed secret holidays on the Caribbean island of Mustique and at a private villa in Morocco.
O'Tool,e who was catapulted to international fame when he starred in the 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia, was married to Welsh actress Siân Phillips at the time, according to the biography.
He comforted Margaret as her marriage to Lord Snowdon unravelled, say authors Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince.
The allegations are revealed in the biography, Peter O’Toole: Hellraiser, Sexual Outlaw, Irish Rebel, due out next month.
They claim the friendship ultimately became sexual, but O’Toole’s friends considered it “a mere diversion” rather than a serious romance.
The writers say the unlikely friendship between the princess and the working class actor who grew up in Leeds began in 1965 after a royal command performance of his film Lord Jim.
The bohemian Margaret, who died in 2002 at the age of 71, invited him to tea at Kensington Palace. Dinner parties and nights out quickly followed.
Veteran biographer Porter said the book was based on interviews with O’Toole’s friends, including Welsh actor Kenneth Griffith, who O’Toole asked to write his memoirs when he thought he was dying of stomach cancer in 1976.
The authors claim the relationship was platonic for many years but by the early 1970s, when she invited him to her friend Countess de Breteuil’s home near Marrakech, it had become sexual.
The countess told the authors her guests had shared the suite where Winston Churchill slept during a secret war meeting with US President Franklin Roosevelt in 1943.
“Throughout the day, when not making love in the Churchill Suite, O’Toole and the princess found charming nooks into which they could retreat,” says the book.
When he later told actor friends Griffith and James Villiers of the visit, O’Toole reportedly said that as a boy he’d dreamed of living with a princess in a fairytale castle and his dream had come true.
Shortly after the Moroccan tryst, he flew to Mustique. According to the book, Colin Tennant, later Lord Glenconnor, discreetly arranged for him to stay at a villa half a mile from Margaret’s holiday home.
O’Toole, who died aged 81 in 2013, is quoted in the book telling Griffith: “I’ll always treasure our walks along the rustling palm trees, seeking out that secluded cove for lovemaking.”
The authors claim the affair had fizzled out by 1973 when Margaret, then 43, created a royal scandal by falling for 25-year-old society gardener Roddy Llewellyn.