Margaret Osla Benning (23 August 1921 – 29 October 1974) was a Canadian debutante, who worked at Bletchley Park, was Prince Philip's first girlfriend, and later married John Henniker-Major, 8th Baron Henniker.
Osla Benning was born in Montreal, Canada, on 23 August 1921, the daughter of James William Benning, and the goddaughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten. She went to finishing school in Austria, and came out as a debutante in August 1939.
World War II, Prince Philip and Bletchley Park
Benning went to stay with her godfather Lord Mountbatten, who mentioned to her friend (and fellow god-daughter) Sarah Baring that Prince Philip (Mountbatten's nephew) did not have a girlfriend, and Baring acted as matchmaker. According to Baring, "It was obvious that he was Osla's boyfriend in a simple, nice way, so to speak". "I do know that he was her first love," says her daughter, Janie Spring. "She never told me about him for years. She just said: 'I fell in love with a naval officer.’"
Early in the war, she and her good friend Baring went to build Hurricane fighter planes at a Hawker Siddeley factory close to Slough, and shared a cottage nearby.
A few months later, by summer 1941, they were both tested on their German language skills and posted to Hut 4 at Bletchley Park, the naval section, as linguists.
In 1946 she married John Henniker-Major, who succeeded as the 8th Baron Henniker in 1980, and they had two sons and one daughter:
- Mark Ian Philip Chandos Henniker-Major, 9th Baron Henniker (born 29 September 1947), married Lesley Antoinette Foskett
- Hon. Charles John Giles Henniker-Major (2 September 1949 – 9 May 2012), married Sally Kemp Newby
- Hon. Jane Elizabeth Henniker-Major (born 6 July 1954), married Richard Spring, Baron Risby
Benning died in Kensington, London, in October 1974.
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