Greta Garbo,Cecil Beaton and Peter Watson

Cecil Beaton had a well-known relationship with Greta Garbo over a number of years. It was not an easy relationship. One aspect of it which Beaton did not relish was the nexus between him, Peter Watson and Greta Garbo.

As everyone who knows anything about Beaton’s life knows,Beaton was obsessed by Peter Watson from 1930, when he met him in Vienna, to 1956, when Watson died. The obsession calmed down after about 1934, but it never disappeared. When Garbo came into Beaton’s life, he found it awkward to contemplate her meeting Watson. She was undoubtedly wary of Watson, after what she had heard about him from Beaton, whereas he, never a respecter of famous people, had little interest in her.

Generally, one suspects that Beaton kept the meetings between Garbo and Watson to a minimum and Watson appears to have been amused when Beaton, perhaps inevitably, found his relationship with the screen legend faltering. Nevertheless, at that most excruciating moment in Beaton’s life, when he received the news in May 1956 of Watson’s mysterious death, he didn’t hesitate to write immediately to Garbo to reflect on his lost love. History does not relate what she thought of the news.