Mitford, Diana

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Mitford, Diana, Lady Mosley, born Freeman-Mitford, 17-06-1910, was one of Britain’s noted Mitford sisters. She was married first to Bryan Walter Guinnes, heir to the barony of Moyne, and secondly to Sir Oswald Mosley, 6th Baronet of Ancoats, leader of the British Union of Fascists, her second marriage. Oswald Mosley  died of natural causes on 03-12-1980 in his Orsay home, aged 84. He was cremated in Paris and his ashes were scattered from the pond at Orsay. in 1936, took place at the home of Josef Goebbels (did you know),  with Adolf Hitler (did you know) as guest of honour. Subsequently her involvement with right-wing political causes resulted in three years’ internment during World War II. She later moved to Paris and enjoyed some success as a writer. Diana Mitford was the daughter of David Freeman-Mitford and his wife, Sydney (1880–1963, then from the age of 10 at the family home,  Asthall Manor and later at Swinbrook House, a home her father had built in the village of Swinbrook. She was educated at home by a series of governesses except for a six month period in 1926 when she was sent to a day school in Paris. In childhood, her younger sisters Jessica “Decca” and Deborah “Debo” were particularly devoted to her. Her eldest sister Nancy  was jealous of Diana’s beauty and popularity with the friends she would bring home to Asthall or Swinbrook. Diana was a Nazi Germany fan and had scratched the Swastika in the glass of her bedroom window. At the age of 18, she became secretly engaged to Bryan Guiness shortly after her presentation at Court. In February 1932 Diana met Sir Oswald Mosley at a garden party. He went on to become leader of the British Union of Fascists and Diana became his mistress. Diana left her husband but Sir Oswald would not leave his wife. Quite suddenly, Cynthia died in 1933 of peritonitis. While Mosley was devastated by the death of his wife, he soon started an affair with her younger sister Lady Alexandra Metcalfe. He married Diana and the couple rented Wooton Lodge, a country house in Staffordshire.  In 1934, Mitford went to Germany with her then 19-year-old sister Unity.

 While there they attended the first Nuremberg rally after the Nazi seizure of power. A friend of Hitler’s, Unity introduced Diana to him in March 1935. They returned again for the second rally later that year and were entertained as his guests at the 1935 rally. She also was good friends with the Hitler intimate Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl.  In 1936, he provided a Mercedes-Benz to chauffeur Diana to the Berlin Olympic games. She became well-acquainted with Winifred Wagner

 and Magda Goebbels. Diana and Oswald wed in secret on 06-10-1936 in the drawing room of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, whose wife Magda was a friend of Diana. Adolf Hitler was reportedly the sole guest. The marriage was kept secret until the birth of their first child in 1938. In August 1939, Hitler told Diana over lunch that war was inevitable. Hitler presented the couple with a silver framed picture of himself. The Mosleys were interned during much of World War II, under Defence Regulation 18B, along with other British fascists including Norah Elam. She died age 83 in 1961.   M 15 documents released in 2002 described Lady Mosley and her political leanings. “Diana Mosley, wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, is reported on the ‘best authority’, that of her family and intimate circle, to be a public danger at the present time. Is said to be far cleverer and more dangerous than her husband and will stick at nothing to achieve her ambitions. She is wildly ambitious.” On 29-06-1940, eleven weeks after the birth of her fourth son Max, Diana was arrested, hastily stuffing Hitler’s photograph under Max’s cot mattress when the police came to arrest her and taken to a cell in F Block in London’s Holloway Prison for women. She and her husband were held without charge or trial, at His Majesty’s pleasure largely due to the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison . Morrison died age 77 on 06-03-1965. The pair were initially held separately but, after personal intervention by Sir Winston Churchill in December 1941 Mosley and two other 18B husbands were permitted to join their wives at Holloway. After more than three years’ imprisonment, they were both released in November 1943 on the grounds of Mosley’s ill health; they were placed under house arrest until the end of the war and were denied passports until 1947. Lady Mosley’s prison time failed to disturb her approach to life; she remarked in her later years that she never grew fraises des bois that tasted as good as those she had cultivated in the prison garden. Though prison was not something she would have chosen, she said, “It was still lovely to wake up in the morning and feel that one was lovely,” when she compared her lot to the other women incarcerated at Holloway. According to her obituary in the Daily Telegraph, a diamond swastika was among her jewels.  In 1998, due to her advancing age, she moved out of the Temple de la Gloire and into a Paris apartment. Temple de la Gloire was subsequently sold for £1 million in 2000. Throughout much of her life, particularly after her years in prison, she was afflicted by regular bouts of migraines. In 1981, she underwent a successful surgery to remove a brain tumor. She convalesced at Chatsworth House,  the residence of her sister Deborah, : Debo”

In the early 1990s, she was also successfully treated for skin cancer. In later life she also suffered from deafness.

Death and burial ground of Mitford, Diana.

  She died in Paris in 11-08-2003, aged 93, reportedly due to complications related to a stroke she had suffered a week earlier, but reports later surfaced that she had been one of the many elderly fatalities of the heat wave of 2003 in mostly non-air-conditioned Paris. Her remains are buried in the Swinbrook Churchyard in Oxfordshire.

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