The Princess And The Gangster – was all about the gangster…

by Lynn Connolly

This Channel 4 documentary last night claimed that the central focus of the film was Princess Margaret and her supposed love affair with the criminal John Bindon. Right at the get go, we were told he was “One of London’s most notorious and violent criminals” however it seems that many of those close to him, the Princess included, were more than happy to overlook that fact given that Bindon had charisma by the bucket load.

In case you missed it, the story began in Mustique which was Princess Margaret’s “Caribbean retreat” and the place she was best able to relax away from the constant scrutiny of the British ‘establishment’ to whom Margaret was not only a ‘black sheep’ but often a thorn in their upper crust sides…

By 1974, Margaret’s affair with Roddy Llewellyn was all over bar the shouting so just as the monarchy’s spin doctors were possibly daring to breathe a sigh of tentative relief, Margaret’s friend, Dana Gillespie – upper class actress and singer – introduced Margaret to John Bindon.

He too was an actor and Dana had invited him to join her on Mustique that year. John ‘Biffo’ Bindon had appeared in several British movies during the late sixties and early seventies, and was arguably most noted for his roles in the films Poor Cow, Performance and Get Carter.

But as well as being an actor, Bindon was also a violent gangland criminal whose childhood was spent in post-war deprivation in Fulham. During the sixties, he’d been in prison for assault and living off the earnings of a prostitute.

Margaret and Bindon met during lunch on Mustique and the documentary claimed Bindon made a “deep impression Princess Margaret”. Inevitably, Bindon and Margaret’s then continued friendship eventually drew attention from the press and when the money greedy Bindon started talking to journalists, the British Security Services stepped in and, according to Bindon, told him he would have to keep quiet about anything to do with Margaret.

But then, when Bindon was involved in a highly publicised murder case, the stakes got even higher for the British monarchy and something akin to panic set in for the monarchy.

In the meantime, Bindon was still the darling of the Hooray Henry set on Mustique and Dana Gillespie claimed John “would make people weak with laughter.

“He was so funny, you had to have five or ten minutes break to get away from him because he’d make your jaws ache”.

What she didn’t mention was that if you crossed him – or he could earn a few quid from it – he’d quite possibly violently break those same jaws in a heartbeat.

Other interviewees in the film claimed Bindon was also “well endowed” and as his long-term girlfriend Vicki Hodge put it, this was a big “advantage” where the ladies were concerned. It was also noted that Bindon could, and did, perform “party tricks” with said well endowed member, one of which was “the helicopter” trick which involved him “whirling it around like helicopter blades” then slapping it down on the bar…

Fun times indeed. Let’s hope the bowls of peanuts were covered with cling film…

Hodge said she found him “frightfully funny”. She’d have had a right laugh if she’d met Peter Sutcliffe then I assume.

The raison d’être of this rather tasteless documentary was whether Princess Margaret took Bindon’s helicopter to bed, but frankly, who cares? I always felt that Margaret was unjustly vilified at the time sacrificed a great deal for the sake of her family and the monarchy in general, and truthfully, had she been around today doing what she did, most people wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

Margaret’s associates always denied that Bindon was anything more than an acquaintance, and of all the people interviewed for the documentary, only Hodge insisted Margaret and Bindon had been sexually involved and this sad woman seemed rather too keen to rake up the past, possibly in the hope of turning a buck or two.

Ultimately, this show wasn’t about Margaret at all; it was pretty much a look at the life and times of Bindon who was nothing more than a sycophant opportunist who saw his chance to make money by befriending Margaret.

Bindon eventually became a solitary and reclusive heroin addict and died of an Aids related disease in 1993.

It was ridiculous of the makers of this documentary to constantly insist that Margaret’s association with Bindon brought about her vilification in the British media. The Daily Mirror ran the Margaret-Bindon expose after he was tried for murder – for which he was somewhat inexplicably acquitted – in 1978.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the royal scandals since then made this one seem like a Brownie’s tea party by comparison.

You can read more media coverage surrounding this and other Margaret-Bindon rumours in this Daily Mail article.

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Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.