Vicky Masters, the last mayoress of the former Metropolitan Borough Hackney, has died at the age of 89, her nephew has announced.
Masters, who once caused a stir when she refused to curtsy for the visiting Princess Margaret, passed away on 30 December, a month before her 90th birthday.
She supported her husband, Alderman Bob Masters, who was mayor for the municipal year 1964–65, just before Hackney joined with Shoreditch and Stoke Newington to form the borough we know today.
Vicky had been a Labour Party councillor in her own right during the 1950s, but chose to support Bob in his political activities and bring up their son Andrew.
She worked as a clerk with the London County Council and joined the Woman’s Land Army in the aftermath of the Second World War.
She became one of the youngest civic consorts in London when she served mayoress aged just 34.
Vicky caused consternation in the mayor’s parlour when she told the Town Clerk there was no way she would curtsy to visiting royalty and insisted that Princess Margaret would be welcomed to Hackney with a polite handshake, just like anyone else.
Her nephew, David Hallam, a former Member of the European Parliament, told the Citizen: “Princess Margaret wasn’t offended and they ended up getting on well.
“Vicky wasn’t anti-royalty but she didn’t think it was appropriate behaviour. She thought it was very undignified to curtsy.
“That caused a fuss!”
Both Vicky and Bob were active in the Community Relations Council and committed anti-racists.
In 1979, Bob was chair of the borough’s planning committee and refused permission for a racist organisation to use a warehouse in Shoreditch as their national headquarters.
The family home was bombarded with threatening telephone calls, to which Vicky is said to have given a typically robust response.
David added: “Being the wife of a councillor who was fairly high-profile, she had to put up with quite a lot of things.
“But when people came to her door with a particular problem, she would invite them in, give a cup of tea and perhaps do a bit of social work herself.”
After Bob retired, the family moved to Ramsgate in Kent, where they became active in the local Labour Party.
Bob died in 2000 and their son Andrew died in 2011, leaving his wife Samantha and two granddaughters.
Vicky lived in a residential home as she coped with deteriorating eyesight during the last years of her life.
Her funeral will be held on Thursday 23 January at 4pm in Thanet Crematorium, Manston Road, Margate.
It will be conducted by nephew David, and music will include ‘The Red Flag’, ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’, as Vicky requested.