Boris Johnson’s daughter has become the first member of her family to publicly pay tribute to her late grandmother Charlotte Johnson Wahl who died last month aged 79.
The journalist, who is one of Boris Johnson’s four children with ex-wife Marina Wheeler, added that there was talk among her cousins to get her late grandmother’s signature tattooed because her ‘hands shaped her life’s work’ as a painter.
In the piece, Lara also examines Charlotte’s work as a painter, saying her favourite was one of her great uncle Edmund, while she also touches on her mental health battle.
Boris Johnson’s daughter has become the first member of her family to publicly pay tribute to her late grandmother Charlotte Johnson Wahl who died last month aged 79. Lara Johnson-Wheeler is pictured with Charlotte Johnson Wahl and Boris Johnson in 2014 in London
‘Growing up, I knew Grandma had struggled severely with mental health and had been admitted to hospital for a time, but – as with a number of difficult things – we didn’t speak about it often. But her paintings speak for her. They are clear depictions of her anguish, of the desperate scenes around her and in her own head,’ she wrote.
Charlotte also revealed that a few days before Charlotte’s Notting Hill funeral, one of her ‘wonderful cousins’ shared a voice note with her – a tinny recording of a voicemail she left a few days before her sudden death.
‘Another image that came to mind as I listened to that birthday voicemail was that of Grandma’s strawberries. She loved them and loved to paint them. During the cataloguing, six canvases featuring her uniquely wonky, seeded berries emerged, painted between 1969 and 1980,’ Lara went on.
Lara, who is the oldest of Boris Johnson’s six children, added that she was never ‘lucky enough’ to be a star of a Charlotte Johnson Wahl portrait but added she does have a fax of drawing her grandmother made of her when she was just seven.
‘In it, I am wearing a gingham dress in blue and red, and there are strawberry-patch details on the shoulder and hem. I can remember the joy I felt when it inched its way through the machine. Unfortunately, I felt I could improve it further by defacing it with my green apple-scented smelly gel pen. I’m sure Grandma didn’t mind – the strawberries and fabric remained untouched,’ she added.
Charlotte died ‘suddenly and peacefully’ at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London last month. Her death was recorded in a notice placed by the family in the Times.
Lara Johnson-Wheeler (pictured), 28, said her grandmother was ‘unflinchingly honest’ as 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 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’.
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 for Human Rights in the 1970s.
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’. She is pictured with Boris and Rachel
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.
Finishing the piece, Lara added that she will miss her grandmother ‘terribly’.
‘She has left incredible scenes with us, though. Her paintings ensure she’s heard, seen and remembered. Her voice, her emotions and her stories come through in each one, as vibrant, as truthful and as eternally entertaining as she.’