She was a Nazi code-breaker, David Lloyd-George’s land girl and counted Edward VIII and Margaret Thatcher as personal friends.

But Baroness Trumpington, who has died at the age of 96, is perhaps know best of all as the lady who quite literally stuck two-fingers up at convention when she gave the V-sign to a fellow Tory peer who made fun of her age in the House of Lords.

In 2011, she made a two-fingered gesture at Lord King – a moment which “went viral”.

She had taken exception at remarks by the former defence secretary suggesting veterans of the Second World War – of which she was the last remaining member in the Lords – were getting “pretty old”.

Speaking afterwards, she said she had meant the gesture but tried to pretend “her hand slipped” – and despite the ensuing kerfuffle was assured the two remained “jolly good friends”.

Within hours “Trumpers”, as she was affectionately known, had been hailed a heroine by viewers of the online footage. 

She went on to charm the nation, appearing on television shows, including Have I Got News For You, and writing an autobiography detailing her extraordinary life, called Coming Up Trumps. 

Becoming a national treasure took her by surprise, she says: “You know, the Lords is a very friendly place. I thought (that gesture) was simply for the people behind me. I was very surprised that it was on television. And that everybody thought it was funny.” 

Tributes came from across the political spectrum yesterday after her son Adam Barker announced the former Conservative minister died on Monday. International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt described her as a “trailblazer, heroine and an utter joy”.

Mr Barker said she had “a bloody good innings”, as he tweeted: “My mother passed away this afternoon in her sleep.”

James Cleverly, an MP and deputy chairman of the Conservative party, tweeted: “So sad to hear that code breaking, two finger wagging, Baroness Trumpington has passed away. Ma’am, we salute you.”

Tim Farron, MP and former Liberal Democrat leader, said she was “admirable, decent and unique”, while Labour MP Kevin Brennan celebrated his “admiration for a remarkable woman”.

Born Jean Alys Campbell-Harris on October 23 1922, she married Alan Barker after returning to England following a spell in the United States.

Her father, Arthur, was a major in a regiment attached to the Bengal Lancers who had served as an aide-de-camp to the viceroy of India. Her mother, also called Jean, was an heiress of American origins.

Brought up in London in considerable privilege, her parents moved in a fashionable set which included the then Prince of Wales, later the Duke of Windsor, and his paramour Wallis Simpson.

In her 2014 memoirs, she said “we used to say my mother’s idea of being poor was going to the Ritz on the bus”.

As a land girl during the Second World War, she worked on the farm of the former prime minister David Lloyd George in Surrey. The famously amorous politician – she called him an “old goat” – would ask her in, stand her against a wall and try to take her measurements, all while his mistress Frances Stevenson was in the room.

She once recalled: “He was pretty old by the time I knew him. He liked to measure me. It did not really do me any harm, I just thought ‘what a peculiar man’.” 

Her facility with languages – she was fluent in French and German – then took the 18-year-old to the heart of the secret war, working as a cypher clerk at Bletchley Park, transcribing messages from German submarines for the code breakers, who were stationed in another part of the park.

She became Mayor of Cambridge and in 1980 she was awarded a life peerage and quickly became a character in the House of Lords, as well as a forthright and controversial speaker. She was the arch-enemy of political correctness and one of the most outspoken figures in Parliament.

She once enraged thousands of animal-lovers who sent her letters of abuse after she had 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.”