Boris Johnson was in mourning last night after the death of his mother, the painter Charlotte Johnson Wahl, aged 79.
Ms Johnson Wahl died ‘suddenly and peacefully’ at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, on Monday. Her death was recorded in a notice placed by the family in the Times today.
Boris Johnson is said to have called his mother, a professional artist who painted stars such as Joanna Lumley, the ‘supreme authority’ in his family.
The Prime Minister also previously credited her with instilling in him ‘the equal value of every human life’.
But, despite raising two sons who became Conservative politicians, along with journalist Rachel and entrepreneur Leo, Mrs Johnson Wahl said she herself had grown up around ‘rich socialists’.
And in a candid 2015 interview with the Radio Times, she admitted that she had ‘never voted Tory’.
Boris Johnson was in mourning last night after the death of his mother, aged 79. Charlotte Johnson Wahl died ‘suddenly and peacefully’, according to family members
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
Boris Johnson is said to have called his mother (pictured here as a young boy with his mother) the ‘supreme authority’ in his family. The Prime Minister also previously credited her with instilling in him ‘the equal value of every human life’
Pictured: Stanley Johnson and Charlotte Johnson Wahl with their four children. The couple were married for 16 years before their divorce in 1979
After news broke of Mrs Johnson Wahl’s death last night, messages of support 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 shared his condolences, writing 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.’
Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling added: ‘Thinking of Boris Johnson and his family this evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.’
Born Charlotte Fawcett in Oxford in 1942, 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.
One of five children, she studied English at Oxford University. But she interrupted her education to travel to America with Stanley Johnson, whom she met at Oxford and married in 1963.
Speaking about meeting Stanley, she told Tatler magazine in 2015: ‘I was engaged to somebody called Wynford Hicks, who was extraordinarily beautiful to look at but actually quite boring.
‘Anyway, [after the dinner] Stanley sent me a note asking if he could come to tea and go for a walk.
‘So a few days later we went for a walk and he suddenly said, ‘Love is sweet. Revenge is sweeter far. To the Piazza. Ah ha ha har!”, which made me laugh so much I fell in love with him.’
She returned to complete her degree as the first married female undergraduate at her college, Lady Margaret Hall.
Mrs Johnson Wahl turned to art and painted a variety of subjects, primarily portraits.
She is said to have completed more than 2,000 pieces in her career and 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 Jo Johnson, journalist Rachel Johnson, and entrepreneur Leo Johnson.
The Prime Minister’s son Wilfred was her 13th grandchild.
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. Pictured right: British artists Charlotte Johnson Wahl and Miriam Elia attend the Groucho Club’s Maverick Awards in London, England
Mrs Johnson-Wahl turned to art and painted a variety of subjects, primarily portraits. She is said to have completed more than 2,000 pieces in her career and 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
Talking about bringing up four children, who she taught at home for a year, Mrs Johnson Wahl said: ‘They were quite a handful but I loved them tremendously.
‘I taught them very odd things that I wanted to know, like how to draw a squirrel. It was such fun, so cosy.’
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.
She said: ‘My husband and I were not making each other happy, to put it mildly. It was ghastly, terrible.’
Last year it was reported that Mrs Johnson Wahl needed hospital treatment after being hit by Stanley.
Mrs Johnson Wahl’s death was announced in the births, deaths and marriages section of the Times today
A biography of the Prime Minister claimed her marriage became ‘irredeemably fractured’ due to her husband’s ‘neglect and philandering’.
The Gambler, by Tom Bower, alleged that doctors spoke to Stanley ‘about his abuse’ while the couple’s children were told a car door had hit their mother’s face.
It was claimed that the incident took place in the 1970s when Mrs Johnson Wahl was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and had ‘flailed’ at Stanley, who broke her nose when ‘flailing back’.
Stanley, now 81, is said to have deeply regretted the incident and denied he had been violent on any other occasion.
Mr Bower described the marriage as violent and unhappy. In the book, Mrs Johnson Wahl is quoted as saying: ‘He broke my nose. He made me feel like I deserved it.’
After moving to a flat following her divorce, she refused to accept money from her ex-husband and made a living selling paintings. She later recalled she was ‘very hard up’.
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 the wedding.
But she returned to the UK following her husband’s 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
One of five children, she studied English at Oxford University. But she interrupted her education to travel to America with Stanley Johnson (pictured left with Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie), whom she met at Oxford and married in 1963.
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
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.’
The Johnson family today announced her death in the births, deaths and marriages sections of the Times.
The notice reads: ‘Charlotte Maria Offlow, née Fawcett. Died suddenly and peacefully at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, 13 September, 2021, aged 79. Painter.
‘Mother of Alexander, Rachel, Leo, and Joseph; grandmother of Ludovic, Lara, Charlotte, Milo, Oliver, Cassia, Theodore, Rose, Lula, William, Ruby Noor, Stephanie and Wilfred. Private Funeral.’