In spite of this early family tragedy, Diana did have a happy childhood.
Her mother married again, and her second husband was a Vicar who had been left a widower with six children.It turned out to be a very happy marriage, and the couple went on to have four more children together, the offspring of the household being known affectionately as ‘ his, hers and theirs’. So Diana was brought up in the middle of a large and lively family. Fortunately, although a vicar’s stipend was small, the vicarages were usually large [if rather draughty] with big gardens for the children to play in. The older children were almost grown -up and already starting to move away when the little ones arrived. Higher education was reserved for the three boys. The girls went to school until 16 and then it was expected they would wait a few years until they married and had families of their own. Diana worked briefly as a nanny/au pair in France in the 30s but mainly helped her mother at home with the younger children.
In 1938 John Gutch came home on leave from his work as a colonial administrator in Jerusalem which was under British mandate at the time.Aged 33, he thought is was time to find a wife and had a list of three ‘possibilities’from among family acquaintances and friends.When he contacted the first, he was told she was already married. From the second he received no reply, so he wrote to Diana asking if they could meet.He was delighted when she replied that she would like to see him again , and no, she was not married or engaged.[They had in fact met years earlier at a May Ball while John was at Cambridge, when Diana was 17.] Not long after, he proposed to her and they became engaged.He had only a couple of months leave, so the wedding had to be arranged very speedily.They were married in early August 1938 and returned to Jerusalem, via Venice where they spent part of their honeymoon at the Hotel Danielli.It was the start of a long and very happy marriage.
But within a short time, another war loomed.