Margaret painting on display

A portrait of the late Princess Margaret is on public display for the first time in 30 years.

The 1957 painting by Pietro Annigoni – which hung on the wall of her Kensington Palace apartment until it was sold by the princess’ son, Viscount Linley, at an auction in 2006 – has gone on display at the National Portrait Gallery.

The viscount sold the portrait, along with many of the princess’ other possessions, to help pay a £3 million inheritance tax bill following her death from a stroke in 2002.

The royal family were said to be upset the painting was being put up for auction. It was eventually sold to an anonymous buyer for £680,000, three times its original estimate.

It later transpired Viscount Linley was the secret purchaser, having decided to buy it back when he realised the auction was likely to raise much more money than he needed.

He has decided to lend it to the gallery until 2009, and it hangs alongside other images of the princess.

The princess began sitting for the painting in 1956, and posed for the artist 33 times.

Annigoni described the princess as being “enveloped in an aura of sensuality” during their time together.

The picture depicts the royal in an English garden and has flowers in the background, a reference to Margaret’s second name, Rose.