Baroness Trumpington is being remembered for this – but here’s what else she did
The 96-year-old contributed far more to the nation than simply ‘the greatest GIF of all time’.
Tributes have been pouring in for former Conservative minister and Bletchley Park codebreaker Baroness Trumpington, who has died aged 96.
Perhaps predictably, many of the messages focused on a now-infamous moment in the House of Lords, which saw her flick a V-sign at Lord King over what she perceived to be comments about her age (in fact, as the clip shows, it was probably all a misunderstanding).
Baroness Trumpington, a Bletchley Park code-breaker and former Government minister, has died aged 96.— Stephen Jones (@SteveJonesPA) November 27, 2018
Here is the memorable moment she flicked a 'v-sign' in the House of Lords after what she perceived as a comment about her age. pic.twitter.com/bhEimJJOlj
The moment, which went viral back in 2011, has been immortalised on Twitter ever since, and many were quick to reference it when news of her death broke.
Baroness Trumpington is responsible for my favourite gif of all time. RIP. https://t.co/laT5dhfYIg— Grant Tucker (@GrantTucker) November 26, 2018
The redoubtable Baroness Trumpington has died. A class act. https://t.co/OdCPtX0k7U— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) November 27, 2018
RIP Lady Trumpington. What an incredible woman. She made an enormous contribution to her country and she did it with a wicked sense of humour. If only there were more like her. pic.twitter.com/YoPyZdHGa3— Carrie Symonds (@carriesymonds) November 26, 2018
I’m sorry to hear that Baroness Trumpington has died. She was the only peer who could get away with swearing in the House of Lords chamber https://t.co/HFRd595dcV— Charlie Proctor (@MonarchyUK) November 26, 2018
Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jean (Baroness) Trumpington DCVO PC. Wartime code-breaker, fire-brand campaigner, doyen of the Lords and the most delightfully funny, naughty company. As per this picture, she told it as she saw it. #RIP pic.twitter.com/VTqSZ3fsd8— Alastair Stewart (@alstewitn) November 26, 2018
However, as many pointed out, Lady Trumpington’s contribution to British life went far beyond a simple lapse in parliamentary etiquette.
She was a land girl in the Second World War
Born Jean Alys Campbell-Harris on October 23 1922, Lady Trumpington was 17 when the Second World War broke out, at which point she was assigned to work the land on a farm belonging to David Lloyd George.
Describing the period, she said: “I hated being a land girl. There were only old men there. The young men had joined up. And it was all apples – no animals.”
She helped Britain defeat the Nazis
Lady Trumpington managed to escape farming for the more exciting world of codebreaking, making use of her German language skills to help interpret secret messages sent by the Nazis.
Speaking about her time cracking German naval signals, she said: “We never, ever talked about our work.
“When our boyfriends asked us what we did, we had a pact … we said we were the girls who decided who got the medals.”
She served in numerous important jobs
Lady Trumpington never reached Cabinet level, but was a vocal figure in the Tory government, with roles in the agriculture and social security as well as the position of Baroness-in-waiting to the Queen.
On top of that, she served in many other roles, including as UK representative to the United Nations Status of Women Commission and, briefly, the mayor of Cambridge.
Very sad news about the death of Jean Barker, The Baroness Trumpington.— Christopher James (@ChrisJames_90) November 26, 2018
Farmer, Bletchley Park codebreaker, New York socialite, Mayor, MP, Minister, UN Delegate, Baroness, Racecourse Steward.
She only retired last year aged 95.
The only way to describe her life well-lived. pic.twitter.com/K9cN719Xmi
She wasn’t averse to upsetting people
If you hadn’t guessed from her memorable moment in the Lords chamber, Lady Trumpington didn’t shy away from controversy.
So very sad to hear that Baroness Trumpington has passed away. She was one of a kind - they simply don’t make politicians like that anymore. She will be sorely missed in Westminster but long remembered for her outstanding ability and great humour. RIP Trumpers. pic.twitter.com/4VNU9kJKCw— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) November 27, 2018
On one occasion she infuriated thousands of animal-lovers who sent her letters of abuse after she suggested that Falklands sheep should be used as sacrificial mine detectors.
“My point was that sheep could be put out of their misery and eaten, whereas men could not,” she said.
She had some excellent stories
It should come as little surprise that, with so many years of experience, Lady Trumpington could spin a yarn. Here’s one, detailed at the start of her autobiography.
Sad news about Baroness Trumpington. Here again for your enjoyment is the opening paragraph of her autobiography: pic.twitter.com/tGWFue9Wat— Stephen Graham (@PlopGazette) November 27, 2018