War medals awarded to Princess Margaret’s lover Group Captain Peter Townsend are expected to fetch up to £200,000 when they go up for auction next month.

The Battle of Britain fighter, who died in June 1995, became the first pilot to bring down an enemy aircraft on English soil in February 1940.

He later commanded No. 85 Squadron from May 1940 to June 1941, during which he completed more than 300 operational sorties.

Gp Capt Townsend twice took to his parachute, once when wounded, and destroyed at least 11 enemy aircraft during his service.

In June 1942, he assumed of command of No. 605 Squadron and later RAF West Malling and the Free French Training Wing.

He was made equerry to King George VI in 1944 and comptroller to the Queen Mother’s household in 1953, with his royal appointments leading to his forlorn relationship with Margaret. – I was

Royalty – National Day of Prayer Service – St Paul’s Cathedral
Group Captain Peter Townsend (centre), then an Equerry to the King, leaving St Paul’s Cathedral, London, with the Royal family (L-R front): King George VI, the Queen Mother, the future Queen and Princess Margaret after they attended a church service on a National Day of Prayer (PA)

Dix Noonan Webb will offer a group of 11 medals awarded to Gp Capt Townsend for an online auction on July 21, when they are expected to fetch between £160,000 and £200,000.

The medals include a Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Flying Cross and Second Award Bar, and come with his original flying log books that cover his operational career.

Christopher Mellor-Hill, head of client liaison at Dix Noonan Webb, said: “We are very pleased to be offering these extremely important medals on behalf of a collector.

“Peter Townsend had not one but two illustrious careers.

“During the Battle of Britain, Townsend epitomised 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.”

In his later years, Gp Capt Townsend travelled the world to meet young victims of war.

He decided to sell his honours and awards at auction in November 1988 and donated the proceeds to a charitable fund set up to assist children.