More than 100 journalists waited at Balmoral when Eden arrived to discuss the marriage with the Queen and Margaret on 1 October 1955. Lord Kilmuir, the Lord Chancellor, that month prepared a secret government document on the proposed marriage.
On 12 October Townsend returned from Brussels as Margaret's suitor. The royal family devised a system in which it did not host Townsend, but he and Margaret formally courted each other at dinner parties hosted by friends such as Mark Bonham Carter. A Gallup poll found that 59% of Britons approved of their marrying, with 17% opposed. Women in the East End of London shouted "Go on, Marg, do what you want" at the princess. Although the couple was never seen together in public during this time, the general consensus was that they would marry. Crowds waited outside Clarence House, and a global audience read daily updates and rumors on newspaper front pages.
Margaret may have told Townsend as early as 12 October that governmental and familial opposition to their marriage had not changed; it is possible that neither they nor the Queen fully understood until that year how difficult the 1772 Act made a royal marriage without the monarch's permission.
As no announcement occurred—the Daily Mirror on 17 October showed a photograph of Margaret's left hand with the headline "NO RING YET!"—the press wondered why. Parliamentarians "are frankly puzzled by the way the affair has been handled", the News Chronicle wrote. "If a marriage is on, they ask, why not announce it quickly? If there is to be no marriage, why to allow the couple to continue to meet without a clear denial of the rumors?".
An influential 26 October editorial in The Times stating that "The QUEEN's sister married to a divorced man (even though the innocent party) would be irrevocably disqualified from playing her part in the essential royal function" represented The Establishment's view of what is considered a possibly dangerous crisis.
In the 28 October 1955 final draft of the plan, Margaret would announce that she would marry Townsend and leave the line of succession. As prearranged by Eden Anthony, the Queen would consult with the British and Commonwealth governments, then ask them to amend the 1772 Act. Eden would have told Parliament that it was "out of harmony with modern conditions"; Kilmuir estimated that 75% of Britons would approve of allowing the marriage. He advised Eden that the 1772 Act was flawed and might not apply to Margaret anyway.
The Daily Mirror on 28 October discussed The Times's editorial with the headline "THIS CRUEL PLAN MUST BE EXPOSED". Although Margaret and Townsend had read the editorial the newspaper denounced as from "a dusty world and a forgotten age", they had earlier made their decision and written an announcement. On 31 October Margaret issued a statement: I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend. I have been aware that, subject to my renouncing my rights of succession, it might have been possible for me to contract a civil marriage. But mindful of the Church's teachings that Christian marriage is indissoluble and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before others. I have reached this decision entirely alone, and in doing so I have been strengthened by the unfailing support and devotion of Group Captain Townsend. "Thoroughly drained, thoroughly demoralized", Margaret later said, she and Townsend wrote the statement together. She refused when Oliver Dawnay, the Queen Mother's private secretary, asked to remove the word "devotion". The written statement, signed "Margaret", was the first official confirmation of the relationship. Some Britons were disbelieving or angry while others, including clergy, were proud of the princess for choosing duty and faith; newspapers were evenly divided on the decision. Mass-Observation recorded indifference or criticism of the couple among men, but great interest among women, whether for or against. Kenneth Tynan, John Minton, Ronald Searle, and others signed an open letter from "the younger generation". Published in the Daily Express on 4 November, the letter said that the end of the relationship had exposed The Establishment and "our national hypocrisy".