The Lord Lieutenant who advised Princess Margaret

Lady Juliet Townsend unveiling a new centre at The Gateway School in Tiffield in 2012
Lady Juliet Townsend unveiling a new centre at The Gateway School in Tiffield in 2012

Tributes have been paid to the former lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret who advised her on books and etiquette.

Lady Juliet Townsend was the first - and so far only - female Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire.

She held the position from 1998 until June this year and was a familiar face at events across the county.

Lady Juliet, who lived at Newbottle Estate in Hinton-in-the-Hedges, died on Saturday morning, aged 73.

Her widower John, who runs the Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley, said she was just pleased to get on with a job she grew to adore.

He said: “I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met her and been married to her for 44 years.

“She could have a good conversation with anyone, from the man on the street to the Queen. You couldn’t do the job of Lord Lieutenant for so long without having a love of talking to people and that description fitted her completely.”

Lady Juliet’s grandfather was FE Smith, the Conservative statesman and former Lord Chancellor, who was a great friend of Winston Churchill.

Her father was the Earl of Birkenhead and lord-in-waiting to both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

Lady Juliet grew up in Charlton, near Brackley, before going on to study English Literature at Oxford and write a guidebook about Northants. She was encouraged to do so by her friend Sir John Betjeman.

In 1966, she became lady-in waiting to Princess Margaret – the most famous and glamorous woman in the world at the time.

Before becoming Lord Lieutenant, Lady Juliet was county chair of the NSPCC and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, county commissioner of the Northants Guides Association and High Sheriff.

Current Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire David Laing, who succeeded Lady Juliet, said: “She was a remarkable woman, who was able to communicate with anybody at any level. She had a permanent twinkle in her eyes and a smile on the edge of her lips.

“She was full of wit and humour, having a great sense of purpose and a great deal of determination.”

A public service of memorial will be held for Lady Juliet at All Saints Church in January.