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Boris Johnson’s mother Charlotte Johnson-Wahl dies ‘suddenly and peacefully’ at the age of 79 


Boris Johnson was in mourning last night after his mother died aged 79.

Charlotte Johnson-Wahl died ‘suddenly and peacefully’, according to family members. 

She passed away at a hospital in London on Monday, the Telegraph reports. 

Boris Johnson is said to have called her a ‘supreme authority’ in his family. 

The Prime Minister also previously credited her with instilling in him ‘the equal value of every human life’.  

However, despite raising two sons who become Conservative politicians, she herself once said that she had ‘never voted Tory’.

Charlotte Johnson-Wahl is said to have died ‘suddenly and peacefully’, the Telegraph reports. Mrs Johnson-Wahl, a professional painter, died in a London hospital on Monday, the Johnson family said. Here she is pictured with Boris Johnson at the launch of his book ‘The Churchill Factor’ in 2014

Tonight messages of support have flooded in for the Prime Minister, including from opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Writing in a Twitter post, the Labour leader said : ‘I’m very sorry to learn of the Prime Minister’s loss. My condolences to him and his family.’ 

Tory MP Andrew Rosindell also sent his regards, writing in Tweet: ‘Deeply sad to hear of the passing of the Prime Minister’s mother. My thoughts and prayers are with Boris Johnson at this sorrowful time.’

And Connor Burns, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Canada, also sent his condolences, saying in a Tweet: ‘So sad to hear of the death of Boris Johnson’s Mum.

‘Thoughts and prayers are with him and the whole of the Johnson clan.’

Born Charlotte Fawcett, she was the daughter of the barrister Sir James Fawcett - who was president of the European Commission for Human Rights in the 1970s

Born Charlotte Fawcett, she was the daughter of the barrister Sir James Fawcett – who was president of the European Commission for Human Rights in the 1970s

The Johnson family pictured in London in 1972 with (left to right) Boris (aged 8) watching Jo, Rachel and Leo with their mother Charlotte and father Stanley

The Johnson family pictured in London in 1972 with (left to right) Boris (aged 8) watching Jo, Rachel and Leo with their mother Charlotte and father Stanley

Born Charlotte Fawcett, Mrs Johnson-Wahl was the daughter of the barrister Sir James Fawcett – who was president of the European Commission for Human Rights in the 1970s.

She studied English at Oxford University but interrupted her education to travel to America with Stanley Johnson, whom she married in 1963.

She returned to complete her degree as the first married female undergraduate at her college.

Mrs Johnson-Wahl painted a variety of subjects, primarily portraits, and is said to completed more than 2,000 pieces in her career. She was the subject of an exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London in 2015.  

Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, former Evening Standard editor Simon Jenkins and author Jilly Cooper were among those whose portraits she painted.

Along with Boris Johnson, she was also the mother of former Conservative MP Joseph Johnson, journalist Rachel Johnson, and entrepreneur Leo Johnson.

The Prime Minister’s son Wilfred was her 13th grandchild. 

She and husband Stanley Johnson divorced in 1979, after she suffered a mental breakdown and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she remained for nine months.

Mrs Johnson-Wahl went on to marry the American professor Nicholas Wahl in 1988.

She was widowed in 1996 when her second husband died of cancer. Mrs Johnson-Wahl had moved to New York, where she worked as an artists painting mostly city skyline landscapes, following her marriage to Mr Wahl.

But she returned to the UK following his death. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1982, aged 40.

Mrs Johnson-Wahl painted a variety of subjects, primarily portraits. She was the subject of an exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London in 2015

Mrs Johnson-Wahl painted a variety of subjects, primarily portraits. She was the subject of an exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London in 2015

But she continued to paint despite condition – a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement and can cause shaking and stiffness. 

Speaking to the Telegraph in 2008, she said: ‘I try to paint every day if I possibly can, though I have to go to the hospital a lot. 

‘I still manage to paint, though my arm will suddenly do a movement which is completely unintentional and that almost brings me to tears.’

Mr Johnson has previously spoke about his mother, and said at the 2019 Conservative Party conference she had taught him to believe in ‘the equal importance, the equal dignity, the equal worth of every human being on the planet’.

She was described in a 2015 article in the Evening Standard as ‘left-wing’.

Boris Johnson’s sister, Rachel, said in the article, about two-party families, ‘We are a very mixed-race family politically and my father tends to marry socialists.

She later described her mother as ‘the only red in the village when we lived on Exmoor’. 

And she herself once admitted that she had never voted Conservative, despite two of her sons being Tory MPs.

She told the Radio Times in 2015: ‘I find it extraordinary that I should have married a Tory and have four Tory children.

‘I’ve never voted Tory in my life. My parents were very socialist – rich socialists with three cars and two houses, but they were socialists in the days when that happened.’

 Mrs Johnson-Wahl also once explained how she settled on Boris Johnson’s full name – Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Mrs Johnson-Wahl (pictured left with Boris Johnson in 2015) also once explained how she settled on Boris Johnson's full name - Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

Mrs Johnson-Wahl (pictured left with Boris Johnson in 2015) also once explained how she settled on Boris Johnson’s full name – Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

According to the Telegraph, she said: ‘When I was three months pregnant, we travelled to Mexico City by Greyhound bus,’ she said.

‘It was very uncomfortable, I was desperately sick. We stayed with a man called Boris Litwin, who drew me aside and said, ‘You can’t travel back like this, here are two first-class air tickets’.

‘I was so grateful, I said, ‘Whatever the baby is, I shall call it Boris’.’

But she later changed her mind and called him Alexander Boris de Pfeffel.

‘At Eton, his friends discovered his foreign name and everyone started calling him Boris – even the beaks [teachers],’ she recalled.

‘But everyone who’s known him since childhood calls him Alexander. If I were to call him Boris it would mean something was really serious.’



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