Diana Mitford at Chartwell

Diana, the Hon. Lady Mosley (née Freeman-Mitford), ©National Portrait Gallery Diana, the Hon. Lady Mosley (née Freeman-Mitford) ©National Portrait Gallery
Photograph of Diana Mitford as a young woman

Diana, the Hon. Lady Mosley (17 June 1910 - 11 August 2003), was one of the six well-known Mitford sisters. Her mother was Clementine Churchill’s first cousin

She was born on 17 June 1910 at 1 Graham Street, Belgravia, London, the fourth child of David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford (later Baron Redesdale). Her eldest sister was the novelist Nancy Mitford - who portrayed her as Linda in Love in a Cold Climate (1949).

On one occasion when she was sixteen and returning to her school in Paris after a visit home, she was accompanied by Winston Churchill and his son Randolph who were en route to Rome for a meeting with Mussolini, whom Churchill admired at that time. Randolph always adored her, although the beautiful Diana never took him seriously.  

She was married to the poet and novelist Bryan Walter Guinness (1905–1992) on 30 January 1929 and their house in Buckingham Street quickly became a centre for the 'clever and amusing people who could chat endlessly' that Diana had always wanted to meet. Among them was Evelyn Waugh, who fell deeply in love with her, and dedicated his novel Vile Bodies to her.

In her autobiography she writes of visits to Chartwell and of attending ‘dozens of balls’ with Diana Churchill in London while staying with the Churchills at 10 Downing Street.

In February 1932, at the age of 21, she met Sir Oswald Mosley (1896–1980), then widely regarded as one of the most brilliant politicians of his time, with great oratorical skills. By the time he launched the British Union of Fascists on 1 October 1932, her dedication to his political ideas was complete.

She left Bryan Guinness and became Mosley's mistress. They married on 6 October 1936 in the Berlin home of Joseph Goebbels. Hitler's wedding present was a signed photograph in a silver frame.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Sir Oswald Mosley was interned in May 1940 and two months later, eleven weeks after the birth of their second son, Max, Diana was also interned. After their release in November 1943, they remained under house arrest until the end of the war.

In 1951 they settled permanently just outside Paris where they entertained a steady stream of visitors from England. Diana published several books, including a biography of her Parisian neighbour and friend, The Duchess of Windsor (1980).

She died on 11 August 2003 and was survived by her four sons.