Rosalinda Powell fox, daughter of the Raj and Spain
16 July 2009 @ 10:17
A woman has not lived, unless she has been loved and hated, envied and talked about
Japanese proverb used by Rosalinda Powell Fox in her book.
I have been lucky enough to have spent many hours talking, asking questions and passing many a warm afternoon in the shade of the flower scented patio at the home of this great aristocratic and beautiful woman who passed away at the enviable age of ninety six.
Rosalinda daughter of the Raj spent most of her youth in India where she married at the tender age of 16. After given birth to her only child Jonny, she developed bovine tuberculosis. Diagnosed as incurable her husband lost interest in his ailing wife and with a pension of 30 pounds a month she rejoined her family in Britain. Her mother and sisters concerned for her feeble health sent her to Switzerland to be treated by a family friend and well known doctor. Strapped to her bed with her small son by her side and a typewriter gently resting on her chest, she began to write her enchanting book later to be published under the title “The Grass and the Asphalt” Bored and jaded Rosalinda called her medic and posed the question about her life expectancy. ‘Seven to eight years if you stay in bed’ ‘Bring me my clothes she ordered’ and in 1935 headed to warmer climates. Spain and Portugal would be more beneficial for her delicate health. With the intimidation of her mortality always present she began her mysterious adventures.
Whilst attending the German Olympics in 1936 she met the then Spanish military attaché in Berlin, Colonel Juan Luis Beigbeder who would later become her lover and subsequently minister for the exterior in the Government of Francisco Franco. Her relationship with this interesting man, many years her senior was to have serious repercussions on Rosalinda’s life. During World War II Franco suspected her of spying for the British. Britain took the opposing view and she was refused entry into Gibraltar. Undeniably she had a great influence on Col. Beigbeder, one of the motives for which Franco had Beigbeder put under house arrest in Ronda. Rumour has it that Churchill stated ‘the war might have taken a very different course where it not for Rosalinda’ Spain had courted the Axis powers during Franco’s rule. Rosalinda was also arrested in Morocco by the French when she alleged that she was an unwilling witness to the French army’s intention to invade the Spanish zone. It leaves little to the imagination as to why this robust voyager had driven miles to the French area on a road hardly fit for donkeys.
This most unusual and valiant lady was indeed a bizarre sight driving around Spain in a Rolls Royce. She also spent time in the famous cafes of Madrid frequented by members of Franco’s government and high society. She travelled to Portugal when it became too dangerous for anyone implicated with the regime to stay in Spain. There she was known to have collaborated with the American intelligence services.
With the end of the war, Rosalinda headed to Guadarranque where she bought a property to await the release of her cherished Juan. Here he would live out the rest of his life enjoying the views across the bay to his much beloved Africa. Their personal house was built and the interior refurbished with exquisite carved wood from their residence in Tetuan. To this day it had been rather painful for me to have learnt that the present habitants of the property have removed some of these wooden panels.
On the shore of the bay of Gibraltar, this little haven comprised of several chozas (huts) where few locals resided. Rosalinda immediately ordered the building of brick houses, which to this day have the British bulldog above their entrances. She also had a small wall erected to prevent the river flooding the village and planted many trees. This articulate personality planned and spoke about her plans for a book about her existence in this locality. Unfortunately she was never to write the book and to this day the facts relating to her life and properties, in what is still a small hamlet are obscured by intrigue and mystery. But this is another story