Boris Johnson’s daughter is the first member of her family to publicly pay tribute to her late grandmother Charlotte Johnson Wahl, who died last month at the age of 79.
The journalist, one of Boris Johnson’s four children with ex-wife Marina Wheeler, added that her cousins were talking about getting her late grandmother’s signature tattooed because her “hands were her life’s work” as a painter.
In the piece, Lara also examines Charlotte’s work as a painter and says her favorite was one of her great-uncle Edmund, while also discussing her struggles with mental health.
Boris Johnson’s daughter has become the first member of her family to publicly pay tribute to the late grandmother Charlotte Johnson Wahl, who died last month at the age of 79. Lara Johnson-Wheeler is pictured with Charlotte Johnson Wahl and Boris Johnson in 2014 in London
“Growing up, I knew that Grandma struggled with mental health and was hospitalized for a while, but – as with some difficult things – we didn’t talk about it often. But her paintings speak for her. They are clear images of her fear, of the desperate scenes around her and in her own head,” she wrote.
Charlotte also revealed that a few days before Charlotte’s funeral in Notting Hill, one of her “wonderful cousins” shared with her a voice message – a tinny recording of a voicemail she left a few days before her sudden death.
“Another image that came to mind when I listened to that birthday voicemail was that of Grandma’s strawberries. She loved them and loved to paint them. During the cataloging, six canvases emerged showing her unique shaky seeded berries, painted between 1969 and 1980,” Lara continued.
Lara, the eldest of Boris Johnson’s six children, added that she was never “lucky” to star in a portrait of Charlotte Johnson Wahl, but added that she does have a fax from a drawing her grandmother made of her when she was only seven .
“In it, I’m wearing a gingham dress in blue and red, with strawberry patch details on the shoulder and hem. I can remember the joy I felt as it made its way through the machine. Unfortunately I felt I could improve it further by damaging it with my green apple smelling stinky gel pen. I’m sure Grandma didn’t mind – the strawberries and the fabric were untouched,’ she added.
Charlotte died ‘sudden and peaceful’ last month at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London. Her death was featured in a notice posted by the family in the Times.
Lara Johnson-Wheeler (pictured), 28, said her grandmother was “fearless honest” when she wrote about her work as a painter in a sweet piece for Tatler.
Boris Johnson is said to have called his mother, a professional artist who painted stars like Joanna Lumley, the “supreme authority” in his family. The Prime Minister has also 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, Ms. Johnson Wahl said she grew up around “rich socialists” herself. And in a candid 2015 interview with the Radio Times, she admitted that she “never voted for Tory.”
Mrs. Johnson Wahl had an unhappy marriage to Boris’ father Stanley, who was accused of breaking her nose in the 1970s.
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 on Human Rights in the 1970s.
Despite raising two sons to become conservative politicians along with journalist Rachel and entrepreneur Leo, Ms Johnson Wahl said she herself had grown up around “wealthy socialists.” And in a candid 2015 interview with the Radio Times, she admitted that she “never voted for Tory.” She is pictured with Boris and Rachel
She was one of five children and studied English at Oxford University. But she interrupted her education to travel to America with Stanley Johnson, whom she met in Oxford and married in 1963.
Of her meeting with Stanley, she told Tatler magazine in 2015, “I was engaged to someone named Wynford Hicks, who was extremely beautiful to look at, but actually quite boring.
‘Anyway, [after the dinner] Stanley sent me a note asking if he could come for tea and go for a walk.
“So a few days later we went for a walk and suddenly he said, ‘Love is sweet. Revenge is much sweeter. To the Piazza. Ah ha ha har!”, which made me laugh so hard that I fell in love with him.”
She returned to complete her degree as the first married female student at her university, Lady Margaret Hall.
When she finished the piece, Lara added that she will miss her grandmother “terribly.”
“However, she left incredible scenes with us. Her paintings ensure that she is heard, seen and remembered. Her voice, her emotions and her stories emerge in each, as vivid, as truthful and eternally entertaining as she is.’