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Stanley Johnson first wife: Why Boris Johnson's parents split – 'things were difficult'

Stanley Johnson, a former politician and author known more recently for his stint on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, married Charlotte Fawcett after the pair met in Oxford. In an interview with Tatler magazine in 2015, she hinted at the reason behind the divorce.



Charlotte, a talented painter, went to Oxford University where she read English at Lady Margaret Hall.

She met Stanley at a dinner in 1962, organised in his honour after he won the Newdigate poetry prize.

She told Tatler: “I was engaged to somebody called Wynford Hicks, who was extraordinarily beautiful to look at but actually quite boring.

“Anyway, at this dinner I was between two geniuses, Alasdair Clayre, a very brilliant fellow of All Souls who used to sing medieval songs to a lute, and Stanley Johnson.

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Stanley Johnson first wife: The real reason behind split from Boris Johnson’s mother (Image: Getty)

Stanley Johnson first wife: Stanley Johnson backs his son Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: Getty)

“Afterward, 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.

“Then he said he had been offered a Harkness Fellowship (a bursary to study in America) and if I didn’t go with him we would definitely split up.”

The couple married eight months later, aged 20 and 22, and Charlotte gave up her degree to follow Stanley to the US.

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Stanley Johnson first wife: The couple had four children together in nine years and moved 32 times during their relationship because of Stanley’s work commitments. (Image: Getty)

After Stanley finished his course in America Charlotte herself returned to her studies.

She completed her English degree at Oxford while pregnant with Rachel and looking after a 10-month-old Boris.

The couple had four children together in nine years and moved 32 times during their relationship because of Stanley’s work commitments.

In 1974, Charlotte became “extremely phobic” and was “terrified of all forms of dirt” so was admitted to psychiatric hospital Maudsley and later found to have OCD.

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She told Tatler: “Things with Stanley were very difficult. I thought I was marrying a poet but he had become very interested in the environment, he travelled a lot and he enjoyed his travels and then a dear friend told me about that…”

In her interview, she paused and refused to go into more detail.

But the inference was that Stanley, a charismatic man, received a lot of interest from the opposite sex.

However, Charlotte did not say explicitly why the two split.

Stanley Johnson first wife: Rachel Johnson said that as she gets older she has realised how lucky she is to have Charlotte as her mother (Image: Getty)

In 1979, Charlotte and Stanley divorced. The children were upset, but Charlotte said she is on “very good terms with Stanley because I couldn’t bear not to be”.

She lived with the four children in Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill.

During her time in Maudsley she painted a lot, even exhibiting her work, and she continued to do so after the divorce.

At the age of 40, Charlotte was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

She later discovered there is a connection between her depression and her disease.

She told Tatler: “‘It was such a relief to find that OCD often precedes Parkinson’s and is a part of it.

“I always felt such a bore with these ritualistic things I had to do. It’s much better controlled now with medication.

“I also discovered that depression and tiredness go hand in hand with Parkinson’s.”

Her daughter Rachel, 54, said: “As I get older, I realise how lucky I am to have her as a mother.

“If I had one wish it would be to restore her health, even though I have to recognise that being diagnosed with Parkinson’s aged 40 played its part in making her so wonderful and adored.

“She somehow enhances everyone she meets, and her extraordinary ability to appreciate other people – however apparently unblessed with charm or appeal – makes one see why they too are loveable.

“If any of her children have any empathy or humanity – I hope not too big an if – it is largely thanks to her.”

Stanley Johnson will be on Celebrity Antiques Road Trip tonight at 7.30pm on BBC Two

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