Diana Mitford Biography

(Daughter of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale)

Birthday: June 17, 1910 (Gemini)

Born In: Belgravia, London, United Kingdom

British socialite, fascist, and author Diana Mosley (née Mitford) was the daughter of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale, and part of the aristocratic Mitford family of England. Known for her grace and beauty, she was initially married to Bryan Walter Guinness, with whom she had two sons. She later started an affair with the much-married Sir Oswald Mosley, 6th Baronet and got married to him after the death of his first wife. She later had two sons with Oswald too and supported his activities as part of the British Union of Fascists. She also visited Nazi Germany frequently with her sister Unity and became part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. Diana and Oswald were later imprisoned at Holloway Prison. Following their release, they stayed in Ireland and then in Paris, trying to re-build their social and political lives. She died due to the 2003 heatwave in Paris, at age 93.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In June

Also Known As: Diana Freeman Mitford, Diana Mosley, Lady Mosley

Died At Age: 93


Spouse/Ex-: 2. Baron Moyne (m. 1929–1933), Bryan Guinness, Oswald Mosley (m. 1936–1980)

father: David Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale

mother: Baroness Redesdale, Sydney Freeman-Mitford

siblings: Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, Jessica Mitford, Nancy Mitford, Pamela Mitford, Unity Mitford

children: 3rd Baron Moyne, Desmond Guinness, Jonathan Guinness, Max Mosley, Oswald Alexander Mosley

Born Country: England

Royal Family Members British Women

Height: 1.78 m

Died on: August 11, 2003

place of death: Paris, France

Early Life & Childhood

Diana Mosley, or Lady Mosley, was born Diana Freeman Mitford, on June 17, 1910, in London, England, to David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale, and his wife, Sydney Bowles. Hers was an aristocratic English family, with its ancestral origins in Mitford, Northumberland.

She was the fourth child and third daughter of her parents. Her other sisters were Nancy, Pamela, Unity, Jessica (Decca), and Deborah (Debo). She had an elder brother, Thomas. Diana Mosley was also known by her nickname Honks. Sir Angus Ogilvy, Clementine Churchill, and Bertrand Russell were her cousins.

She grew up in Batsford Park, Gloucestershire. By the age of 10, she moved to Asthall Manor in Oxfordshire, and later stayed at Swinbrook House, in the village of Swinbrook.

Considered the most beautiful of the Mitford sisters, she was initially educated at the family’s Astall Manor home, by her mother and her governesses. In 1926, she spent 6 months at a day school in Paris.

Continue Reading Below
Marriages & Personal Life

At 18, soon after her presentation at Court, Diana was secretly engaged to Irish aristocrat and author Bryan Walter Guinness. Back then, Guinness was the heir to the barony of Moyne and the Guinness family brewing fortune.

Diana's parents initially opposed the engagement but were later convinced. The couple married on January 30, 1929, though Diana’s sisters Jessica and Deborah did not attend the ceremony due to illness.

The couple had two sons, Jonathan Bryan (born in 1930) and Desmond Walter Guinness (born in 1931). A society beauty, Diana would often be featured in paintings and photographs back then.

In February 1932, Diana met Sir Oswald Mosley, 6th Baronet, at a society garden party. Back then, Oswald Mosley was married to Lady Cynthia Mosley, one of the daughters of Lord Curzon, former Viceroy of India. Oswald soon began leading the British Union of Fascists.

Though Diana and Oswald began a whirlwind romance soon, Oswald refused to leave his wife till she died of peritonitis in 1933. It is believed Oswald then had an affair with Cynthia’s younger sister Lady Alexandra Metcalfe.

In October 1936, Sir Oswald and Diana married in Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels's Berlin home. Adolf Hitler was one of the six guests at the event. The couple later had two sons, Alexander Mosley (born in 1938) and Max Rufus Mosley (born in 1940).

Though Diana's right-wing parents supported the British Union of Fascists, they were against her decision to leave Bryan for Oswald. For a while, Diana was estranged from her family.

Her marriage to Oswald eventually hampered her relationships with her sisters. Jessica and Deborah were not allowed to meet Diana initially, though Deborah later ended up liking Oswald.

Diana and Oswald initially stayed in a rented accommodation in Wootton Lodge in Staffordshire. From 1936 to 1939, they lived at Wootton Lodge.

Continue Reading Below
Nazi Germany & World War II

In 1934, Diana made her first visit to Germany with her sister Unity. They attended the Nuremberg rally there. In 1935, Diana met Hitler for the first time, through Unity.

Soon, the two sisters became regular visitors to Nazi Germany. They attended another rally in 1935, as honored guests of Hitler.

Gradually, they became acquainted with a lot of top Nazi leaders, such as Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, and Herman Goering. Diana was particularly close to Goebbels’s wife, Magna Goebbels. On one occasion, Hitler described Unity as the perfect example of “Aryan womanhood.”

During this time, Diana spoke to Hitler about launching a pro-Nazi radio station in Britain. In 1938, she was told that the Nazis were planning to install a transmitter on a North Sea island. However, with the onset of World War II, the project was scrapped.

On May 22, 1940, the British government declared that they had imposed the Defence Regulation 18B. This gave the Home Secretary the right to put anybody he believed was a threat to the “safety of the realm” behind bars, without a trial. The next day, Diana and Oswald were arrested.

Soon, a lot of major figures of the British Union of Fascists were imprisoned. On May 30, the Union was dissolved.

Nevertheless, Diana and Oswald received privileged treatment in prison. They were apparently allowed to live in a house, with a garden to sunbathe and grow vegetables, inside Holloway Prison, by Winston Churchill. The couple was also allowed to keep other prisoners as servants.

In November 1943, Diana and Oswald were released from prison by an order issued by Herbert Morrison. This was followed by major protests by anti-fascists across the country.

Post-War Life & Final Years

Following the war, Diana and Oswald tried re-building their lives. In 1949, Diana and Oswald left England.

After this, they first stayed in Ireland and then in the Temple de la Gloire, near Paris, France. During this time, they also re-connected with many old friends and made new friends, too, such as the Windsors and American socialite Wallis Simpson.

The couple also launched Euphorion Books, with the aim to publish the works of right-wing authors. Diana later turned editor for the far-right magazine The European.

They went back to England from time to time to boost a campaign of reorganizing the British Union of Fascists, known as the Union Movement. The opposed non-white immigration but supported their education. However, their efforts to re-enter mainstream British politics was not successful.

After losing her husband, Oswald, in December 1980, Diana was devastated. However, she remained in touch with her friends, till her death in Paris on August 11, 2003, at age 93. She apparently died as a result of the European heatwave.

Diana remains buried in St. Mary's Churchyard, Swinbrook, Oxfordshire. In her final years, she confessed to a journalist how she thought Hitler was to blame for the mass killings of the Jews.

As an Author

Diana was a talented author and had penned several books throughout her lifetime. One of her most prominent works was her 1977 memoir, A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography. In the book, she tried to justify her racist ideas and her support for Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.

Another of her well-known books was The Duchess of Windsor: A Memoir, published in 1980. The book showcased the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, based on Diana’s interactions with them as a neighbor in Paris. She was a regular at their Parisian parties.

She has also penned books such as Loved Ones (1985) and The Pursuit of Laughter (2008). A collection of letters exchanged between her and her sisters was published in the 2007 book The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters.

See the events in life of Diana Mitford in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Diana Mitford Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com

People Also Viewed

Princess Diana Biography
Princess Diana
Prince Harry Biography
Prince Harry
Princess Anne Biography
Princess Anne
Timothy Laurence Biography
Timothy Laurence

Also Listed In