British Boyhood: Alexander Mosley

Figure 1.--Alexander and Max Mosley with their nanny in 1941. At the time, their parents were interned. Alexander appears to be wearing a dress.

Alexander and his brother Max had very well known parents. In fact they were to of the most hated individuals in England. His mother was immortalized by an aunt in a popular novel. She was better known at the time as the wife of Sir Oswald Mosley--the head of the British Fascist movement. The clothes that Alexander and Max wore were a good example of how upper-class British boys were dressed.


Diana Mitford

Alexander's mother, Diana Mitford, was one of the noted Mitford sisters (Pam, Nancy, Diana, Unity, Deborah and Jessica--known as Decca). There was also a brother Tom. Diana was painted by her older sister Nancy in the novel The Pursuit of Love as a beauty, witty oman who charmed English society in the inter-war years. Diana married when very young. Later she met and fell in loved with Oswald Mosley and championed his Fascist movement. She made frequent visits to Germany and befriended the Nazi elite. Unity and Diana's names constantly appearing in the newspapers and referred to as as Hitler's pet Britons. Hitler apparently referred to them as "Perfect specimens of Arayan womanhood". This quotation was constantly sited in British newspapers.

Sir Oswald Ernal Mosley (1896-1980)

Sir Oswald Ernal Mosley could have easily qualified for the title of the most hated man in Britain. He was the head of the British fascists. Mosley was a graduate of Sandhurst, the British military academy. He served in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. He was a Conservative, Independent and Labor MP until leaving the Labour Party in 1931 to lead the British Union of Fascists--sometimes styled the black shirts. At the time of the photo shown here (figure 1), Diana and her husband were being interned by the British government. Mosley was not released until after the War in 1945. Considering that this was in the middle of World War II, this was probably for their own good. After the War it was found that Mosley had received money from the Italians to help build a Fascist movement in Britain.

Diana secretly married Oswald Mosby in Berlin. She didn't want the British press to learn of it. Hitler promised to ensure that the Registrar did not publicize the event. The to exchanged rings and wedding vows at the Berlin home of Josef Goebbels, who was a close personal friend to both Dianna and her sister Unity.

The Children

Diana had two sons, Alexander and Max. The 1941 photograph image here shows the two boys and their nanny (figure 1). Alexander is about 2.5 years and Max, 14 months. There was also a half brother by Oswald Mosley's first wife, the novelist Nicholas Mosley. Alexander and Max had other half-siblings by their mother Diana's first marriage to Bryan Guinness who became Lord Moyne. These were Jonathan Guinness (the present Lord Moyne) and Desmond Guinness who started the Irish Georgian Society.


We have little information about their childhood. Given the fact that there father was so despised in Britain, presumably they much have had some difficult times.

The Boys' Clothes

The Mosleys were allowed family visits, so she was allowed to see the children during this period. I don't know who choose the boy's attire, but they probably wore dresses until 3-4 and likely smocks afterwards. I hope to add more photos of Alexander and Max. I've seen photos of these two boys at about 5 and 6. At that age they had short hair and wore regular English boys' clothes.

Alexander's Clothes

Alexander wears a very short dresses without socks and the strap shoes or sandals which were commonly worn by British boys for school or summer play wear. The ones for boys almost always had the center "T" bar or two double straps. Only girls and very small boys wore the Mary Jane style single strap. Alexander does not appear to be wearing a smock, but rather a dress like a small girl might wear.

Max's Clothes

Max's outfit is harder to make out, but he looks more like a gender-less baby rather than a little girl.

Dresses for Boys

Dresses for boys had passed out of fashion after World War I, but small boys in Europe were still sometimes dressed in dresses or more commonly smocks as late as the 1950s. This was especially true of aristocratic and wealthy families. Wealthy children raised by nannies were often still often dresses in traditional clothes and because they had limited contact with other children, there clothing could sometimes be different than the mainstream fashions worn by most boys from less affluent families. This often changed abruptly when the boys at about 8 years old were sent off to their boarding preparatory schools.

Adult Life

HBC does not have information on Alexander as an adult. Alexander is a publisher in Paris. his wife Charlotte edited Nancy Mitford's letters "Love, Nancy." Max Mosley has been in the news lately, concerning his generous donations to the Labour Party. He is a big noise in motor racing.


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Created: June 21, 1998
Spell check: April 21, 2002
Last updated: December 2, 2002