The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is today mourning the death of his Catholic mother who has passed away “suddenly and peacefully” in a London hospital.
Charlotte Johnson Wahl, 79, had Mr Johnson baptised into her faith as a baby but he elected to worship as an Anglican when he went to Eton College.
Few details have emerged about her death, although the Daily Telegraph, which broke the story, reported that she died shortly after she was admitted to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.
She had been a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease since the age of 40.
The Prime Minister described his mother as the “supreme authority” and credited her with instilling in him his belief in “the equal importance, the equal dignity, the equal worth of every human being on the planet.
Mrs Johnson Wahl was the daughter of Sir James Fawcett, a barrister who became president of the European Commission for Human Rights in the 1970s.
She interrupted her English studies at Oxford University to travel to the United States with Stanley Johnson, the Prime Minister’s father, and later married him.
The Prime Minister was born in New York and baptised Alexander Boris de Pfeffel, with Lady Rachel Billington, the daughter of Lord Longford, once a regular columnist of the Catholic Herald, acted as his godmother.
His mother eventually completed her degree as the first married undergraduate of Lady Margaret’s Hall but made her name chiefly as a portrait artist, with sitters including Jilly Cooper and Joanna Lumley.
She had four children with Stanley before they divorced in 1979 and in 1988 she married American Professor Nicholas Wahl and settled in New York.
Although the Prime Minister was confirmed an Anglican at Eton, he continues to show an occasional affiliation for the Catholic faith.
He even shows himself to be biblically and theologically literate on occasions, urging Theresa May, a vicar’s daughter, for instance, to rise up in the spirit of Moses in Exodus and say to the Pharaoh in Brussels, “Let my people go.”
He once remarked, however, that his religious views were like a signal for Magic FM in the Chilterns – coming and going (a line appropriated by David Cameron) – but says it is “pretentious” to assert he is a practising Christian of any hue.
Mr Johnson clearly held no objections to having his sixth child, Wilfrid, baptised a Catholic in Westminster Cathedral, London, by Fr Daniel Humpheys in September last year or to marrying the child’s mother, Carrie Symonds, a Catholic, in the same church in May.
The Prime Minister has since refused to either confirm or deny whether he has become a Catholic himself.
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