RAF

Group Captain Peter Townsend's Service Medals Sell For £260,000

RAF pilot Group Captain Peter Townsend, who fought in the Battle of Britain, became well known for his relationship with Princess Margaret.

A group of medals awarded to a Battle of Britain pilot who captured the heart of Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister, has gone under the hammer.

The group of 11 medals received by fighter ace Group Captain Peter Townsend sold at auction on Wednesday for £260,000.

Auction house Dix Noonan Webb had estimated the medals would fetch between £160,000 and £200,000.

The RAF pilot became one of 'The Few' in 1940, a phrase coined by Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill when describing the airmen who fought valiantly against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle Of Britain. 

Having downed a total of 11 enemy aircraft, one of which was the first on English soil, and taking to his parachute twice during a highly distinguished career, Group Captain Townsend went on to gain notoriety for his relationship with Princess Margaret.

The controversial relationship between the two eventually ended, with Queen Elizabeth II's only sibling calling off any potential marriage in 1955.

The group of medals awarded to Group Captain Peter Townsend (Picture: Dix Noonan Webb).

In a statement, Princess Margaret referenced the war hero's status as a divorcee and how any marriage would clash with the ideals of the Church of England.

Mr Townsend retired from the RAF on 18 November 1956, going on to release an autobiography, titled 'Time and Chance'. He died on 19 June 1995.

The 11 medals auctioned include a Distinguished Service Order, and Royal Victorian Order, a Distinguished Flying Cross and Second Award Bar.

Christopher Mellor-Hill, of auctioneer Dix Noonan Webb, said before the sale at the auction house: "Peter Townsend had not one but two illustrious careers. During the Battle of Britain, Townsend epitomized the very spirit of Churchill’s famous 'Few' and rapidly became a household name.

"Then his Royal connections brought him to prominence in the 1950s, and now as a result of the hugely successful Netflix series The Crown, he is known to a new generation today."   

The group of medals was sold with Mr Townsend's original flying logbooks from throughout his career.