Edited by Lester Brathwaite on
Daphne Guinness can clearly do no wrong. Everything she wears and says — “I’ll eat when I’m dead” comes to mind — is perfection. Her family, on the other hand, made a lot of missteps — presumably in a tranny heel. Take for instance her Nazi-loving grandparents, at whose wedding Adolf Hitler was the guest of honor. Seriously.
Daphne’s grandparents, Diana Mitford* and Sir Oswald Mosley, were fascists till the very end. Diana went to Germany in 1934 to visit her younger sister, Unity. There they attended the first Nuremberg rally and the following year, Unity introduced Diana to Hitler, with whom she was very good friends. Diana also chummed it up with the Führer, who in 1936, generously provided a Mercedes-Benz to chauffeur her to the Berlin Olympics.
That same year, Diana married British aristocrat and founder of the British Union of Fascists, Oswald Mosley – after abandoning first husband Byron Guinness for him – at the home of the Nazi’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels with Hitler in attendance. I wonder if the bride wore Christian Dior or if she just wrapped herself in a giant Swastika and called it a day?
Life was just peachy for the Grandparents Guinness until over lunch in 1939, Hitler confided in Diana that war was inevitable. In September of that year, Britain declared war on Germany, prompting Unity Mitford to shoot herself in the head. Daphne wondered aloud, in her brilliant profile in The New Yorker, ”Why didn’t Unity shoot Hitler instead of herself? Then we’d be descended from heroes instead of from villains.” Unity survived the suicide attempt but doctors thought it too dangerous to remove the bullet and she subsequently died of meningitis caused by the cerebral swelling around it in 1948.
In 1940, Oswald was arrested, along with other English fascists, and the British Union of Fascists was outlawed. After the birth of her fourth son, Diana was also arrested and interned in London’s Holloway Prison for women. The couple was initially held separately, but thanks to Winston Churchill‘s intervention — Churchill seems to have intervened a lot on behalf of the Nazis — both Diana and Oswald spent their time locked up together at Holloway. Oswald fell ill during their imprisonment and the Mosleys were released from there in November 1943, to spend the rest of the war under house arrest.
Daphne was close to both her grands, remembering “fascinating conversations around the dinner table about books, politics, art, whatever” with her grandfather. She did, however, try to get to the heart of her grandmother’s fascination with Hitler: “I said, ‘Granny, it just can’t be right,’ and she just said, ‘He didn’t photograph well.’ She said he was very, very funny.” True to form, Diana Mitford was a Nazi-lover til the day she died. Among her personal effects discovered after her death was a diamond swastika. No word if Daphne was bequeathed it in the will. [Jezebel]
*Besides Daphne, Diana’s fashionable descendants include models Stella Tennant and Tom Guinness.