Diana Mosley (Freeman-Mitford)
|Also Known As:||"Lady Mosley"|
|Birthplace:||Belgravia, Westminster, England|
|Death:||Died in Paris, France|
|Cause of death:||Stroke|
|Place of Burial:||Swinbrook Churchyard, Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, England|
Daughter of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale and Sydney, Baroness Redesdale
|Occupation:||Nazi sympathizer and author|
|Managed by:||Private User|
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About Diana Mitford, The Hon. Lady Mosley
Diana Mitford, Lady Mosley, [fn1] was born on 17 June 1910 in Belgravia, Westminster, England and died 11 August 11, 2003 in Paris, France. Her remains are interred in the Swinbrook Churchyard in Oxfordshire with those of her sisters.
Diana Freeman-Mitford was one of the famous Mitford sisters and a glamorous 1930's socialite who scandalously abandoned her husband, embraced fascism and married Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists.
Parents: 4th child of David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford (1878-1958), 2nd Baron Redesdale and Sydney Bowles (d. 1963).
- on 30 January 1929 to Bryan Walter Guinness (1905-1992), 2nd Baron Moyne, son of Walter Edward Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne and Lady Evelyn Hilda Stuart Erskine. [fn3] They divorced in 1934; he married 2ndly to Elisabeth Nelson (1912-1999).
- on 6 October 1936 at Germany to Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley (1896-1980), 6th Bt., son of Sir Oswald Mosley, 5th Bt., as his 2nd wife; he was previously married to Lady Cynthia Blanche Curzon (1898-1933). [fn4]
Children of Diana Freeman-Mitford and Bryan Walter Guinness, 2nd Baron Moyne:
- Jonathan Bryan Guinness, 3rd Baron Moyne b. 16 Mar 1930
- Hon. Desmond Walter Guinness+ b. 8 Sep 1932
Children of Diana Freeman-Mitford and Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Bt.
- Oswald Alexander Mosley b. 26 Nov 1938
- Max Rufus Mosley b. 13 Apr 1940
a dangerous woman
She was one of the few people ever to maintain simultaneous friendships with Hitler and Churchill.
Blonde, blue-eyed Diana was an outstanding beauty - "the most divine adolescent I have ever beheld: a goddess, more immaculate, more perfect, more celestial than Botticelli's sea-borne Venus .... " [fn2]
The death of Diana Mosley brings to an end one of the most curious questions of British upper-class etiquette: how does one deal socially with an unrepentant Nazi?
One of the funny, charming, intelligent and glamorous Mitford sisters; a denizen of the 'Hons' cupboard; a dedicatee of Vile Bodies; a beautiful woman whom Churchill called Dinamite; an inspired interior decorator; a steadfast friend to a wide galère (including some Jews); a fine autobiographer and loving mother; yet Diana Mosley was also a woman who could - when she was inadvisedly invited to appear on Desert Island Discs - describe Adolf Hitler in almost wholly positive terms.
A wartime British intelligence memo urging that Mrs. Mosley also be imprisoned, written in 1940 and released only last year , described her as being "far cleverer and more dangerous than her husband, and will stick at nothing to achieve her ambitions." [fn5]
The sister of Unity Mitford, Nancy Mitford and Jessica Mitford, Diana was educated at home (Asthall Manor) by her mother.
In 1929 she married Bryan Guinness, the heir to the brewing fortune. The couple had two children, Jonathan and Desmond. Diana's parents held right-wing political views and supported the British Union of Fascists and in 1932 she was introduced to its leader, Oswald Mosley. Diana immediately fell in love with Mosley and later claimed that she knew the relationship "would never end except with death". Diana left her husband but Mosley refused to desert his wife, Cynthia Curzon, the daughter of the former Viceroy of India. It was not until Cynthia died of peritonitis that Mosley agreed to marry Diana.
Diana and her sister, Unity Mitford, were regular visitors to went to Nazi Germany. While there they met Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Herman Goering, Joseph Goebbels and other leaders of the Nazi Party. Hitler told newspapers in Germany that Unity was "a perfect specimen of Aryan womanhood".
In October 1936, Diana and Oswald Mosley were secretly married in Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels's drawing room in Berlin.
On 22nd May 1940 the British government announced the imposition of Defence Regulation 18B. This legislation gave the Home Secretary the right to imprison without trial anybody he believed likely to "endanger the safety of the realm". The following day, Diana and her husband Oswald Mosley were arrested. Over the next few days other prominent figures in the BUF were also imprisoned. On the 30th May the BUF was dissolved and its publications were banned.
Diana and her husband received privileged treatment while in prison. Winston Churchill granted permission for the couple to live in a small house inside Holloway Prison. They were given a small garden where they could sunbathe and grow their own vegetables. They were even allowed to employ fellow prisoners as servants.
In November 1943, Herbert Morrison controversially decided to order the Mosleys to be released from prison. There were large-scale protests and even Diana's sister, Jessica Mitford, described the decision as "a slap in the face of anti-fascists in every country and a direct betrayal of those who have died for the cause of anti-fascism."
After the war Diana and Oswald Mosley established Euphorion Books in an attempt to publish the work of right-wing authors. Diana also edited the far-right magazine, The European. The couple left England in 1949 and after a period in Ireland settled in France where they lived close to their friends, the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson. [fn6]
The couple returned to England on a regular basis to campaign for the reorganized British Union of Fascists, the Union Movement. They were both strong opponents of non-white immigration. According to Diana: "Immigration has been a tragedy, any number should be allowed in to go to universities and learn to be doctors and one thing and another - but not to settle".
In 1977 Diana published her memoirs, A Life of Contrasts. In the book she attempted to justify her racist beliefs and the support she had given Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. [fn7]
- [fn1] She was also known as Diana Mitford Guinness Mosley (Wikipedia)
- [fn2] Family friend, James Lees-Milne wrote of her beauty; "She was the nearest thing to Botticelli's Venus that I have ever seen".
- [fn3] Already famed for her beauty and style -- Her portrait was painted by Augustus John, Pavel Tchelitchew and Henry Lamb --  she became secretly engaged to Bryan Walter Guinness shortly after her presentation at Court at age 18, heir to the barony of Moyne. Their marriage was the society "society marriage of the year." The couple had an income of £20,000 a year, an estate, Biddesden in Hampshire, and houses in London and Dublin. (Wikipedia)
- [fn4] In February 1932 Diana met Sir Oswald Mosley at a garden party at the home of noted society hostess Emerald Cunard. Diana became his mistress. She married Mosely in secret in Germany on 6 October 1936, in the drawing room of the Berlin home of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. Other than the witnesses, the only guests were Goebbels and Hitler. During their time in France the Mosleys quietly went through another marriage ceremony; Hitler had safeguarded their original marriage license, and it was never found after the war. (Wikipedia)
- [fn5] MI5 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." http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/reports/misc/mosley_20031114.shtml
- [fn6] They later settled permanently in France, where they lived in an exquisite house at Orsay near Paris. It is a former French folly named Temple de la Gloire. They were neighbours of Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and soon became close friends with them. The Duchess of Windsor, upon seeing the Temple de la Gloire for the first time, was said to have remarked, "Oh, it's charming, charming but where do you live?" (Wikipedia)
- [fn7] In 2007, many letters between the Mitford sisters (including her own) were published in the compilation The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters, edited by Charlotte Mosley. The book garnered acclaim. In a review published in The Sunday Times, journalist India Knight noted that Diana was "briefly sinister but also clever, kind, and fatally loyal to her Blackshirt husband, Oswald Mosley. " 
-  Lady Diana Mosley, Fascist Who Dazzled, Is Dead at 93 The New York Times. 14 August 2003. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E01EED91F31F937A2575BC0A9659C8B63
-  "Obituary: Lady Diana Mosley". BBC. August 13, 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3148299.stm.
-  Knight, India (September 2, 2007). "REVIEW: The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters". London: The Sunday Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article2348736.ece. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
- [S37] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 3, page 3286. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition.
- [S1104] Laura Lodge, "re: Mitford Family," e-mail message to Darryl Lundy, 27 May 2004. Hereinafter cited as "re: Mitford Family."
One of Britain's noted Mitford sisters, Diana Mitford was married first to Bryan Walter Guinness, 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, in 1936, took place at the home of Joseph Goebbels, with Adolf Hitler as guest of honour. Subsequently her involvement with right-wing political causes resulted in three years' internment during the Second World War. She later moved to Paris and enjoyed some success as a writer. In the 1950s she contributed diaries to Tatler and edited the magazine, The European. In 1977 she published her autobiography, A Life of Contrasts and two more biographies in the 1980s. She was also a regular book reviewer for Books & Bookmen and later at The Evening Standard in the 1990s. She caused controversy when she appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1989. Family friend, James Lees-Milne wrote of her beauty; "She was the nearest thing to Botticelli's Venus that I have ever seen"
She died in Paris in August 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 interred in the Swinbrook Churchyard in Oxfordshire with those of her sisters. Her death leaves one surviving sister: Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.