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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

US World War Two spy Aline Griffith who became grandee of Spanish high society as the Countess of Romanones, dies aged 94

  • At the start of the war she volunteered to join the forerunner of the CIA 
  • She was sent to Madrid to infiltrate the social elite that had ties to the Nazis
  • Griffith booked into the Ritz and soon mixed with aristocrats, singers and actors
  • She fell in love with an aristocrat, becoming a countess and giving up spying


  • American born Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones, former model, journalist, author, lecturer and wartime spy, has died in her beloved adopted Spain aged 94. 
    Born in 1923 in Pearl River, New York, she studied literature, history and journalism before becoming a model in her late teens. 
    After the United States entered World War 2 she volunteered to join the newly created Office of Strategic Studies (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. 


    Aline Griffith volunteered to join the Office of Strategic Studies (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA


    She studied literature, history and journalism before becoming a model in her late teens

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    Following in depth training in intelligence gathering she was sent to Madrid, the capital of so-called neutral Spain, to infiltrate the small but privileged social elite surrounding the Franco regime of whom many had close ties with German Nazis.
    She arrived in 1944 aged just 21 and her cover was that she was a model and good time girl from a wealthy American family.
    On arrival she booked into the Madrid Ritz Hotel and was soon a familiar figure about town in her latest New York outfits and mixing with aristocrats, bullfighters, singers and actors. Codenamed 'Tiger' her mission was to identify Nazis and their roles in the Spanish capital. 
    She stayed on after the war, still sending information she gathered. But after falling in love and marrying an aristocrat, the Count of Romanones, she gave up espionage.



    Griffith married and aristocrat, the Count of Romanones, and she gave up espionage


    Aline Griffith, Countess Aline de Romanones, Elizabeth Taylor at a party in in Tangier, Morocco.


    Among her many famous friends was Jacqueline Kennedy. The pair are pictured at a bullfight in Seville, Spain in 1966


    Aline Griffith went on to become a mother of three and a grandmother of 13 as well as becoming an author and a lecturer on international affairs



    She only told her husband Luis, pictured with her left, she was a spy on her wedding night


    Aline Griffith, Countess  of Romanones photographed, at a wedding in Madrid in 2010

    Griffith told him she had been a spy the night before their wedding. Later she and her husband met her former case officer and to her surprise the two men knew each other. 
    The Countess went on to become a mother of three and a grandmother of 13 as well as becoming an author and a lecturer on international affairs. In 1987 she published memoirs of her secret exploits in a book called 'The Spy Wore Red'.
    She admitted in an author's note that she had changed the names of many of those mentioned as they were still alive and 'might be embarrassed' and even 'occasionally omitted or altered insignificant incidents....and the sequence of events'. 
    But she added: 'The core of the story is accurate.' 
    In an interview at her home in Madrid some years ago she recalled that amongst her friends and acquaintances were actresses like Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn and Deborah Kerr, Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy, the Duchess of Alba, Imelda Marcos, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.


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