Norma Major

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Lady Major
DBE
Spouse of the Prime Minister
of the United Kingdom
In office
28 November 1990 – 2 May 1997
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Denis Thatcher
Succeeded by Cherie Blair
Personal details
Born Norma Wagstaff
(1942-02-12) 12 February 1942 (age 72)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) John Major
Children James Major
Elizabeth Major
Religion Anglican

Dame Norma Christina Elizabeth Major, Lady Major, DBE[1][2] (née Wagstaff, later Johnson, 12 February 1942), is the wife of Sir John Major, the former British Prime Minister. Major has been a keen supporter of the British Conservative Party.

Biography[edit]

She is the daughter of the late Norman Wagstaff and the late Edith Johnson, and was born Norma Christina Elizabeth Wagstaff. She was born in Shropshire while her father was stationed there. He was killed in a motorcycle accident a few days after the end of World War II, when Norma was three years old, and her mother subsequently changed the family name back to her maiden name, so that she was called Norma Johnson as she was growing up.

Norma was educated at a boarding school in Bexhill-on-Sea, Oakfield Preparatory School in Dulwich, and Peckham School for Girls where she was Head Girl. She was a skilled dressmaker and trained as a teacher, working at St Michael and All Angels Church of England School, Camberwell. She was also a member of the Young Conservatives.[3]

At a Conservative Party meeting during the campaign for the 1970 Greater London Council elections she was introduced to John Major by Peter Golds, a party agent. They married on 3 October 1970.

The Majors have a son, James Major,[4] and a daughter, Elizabeth Major.[5] She kept a low profile during her time as wife to the Prime Minister (November 1990 to May 1997), doing charity work and writing two books, Chequers: The Prime Minister's Country House and its History (1997) and Joan Sutherland: The Authorised Biography (1994).

She was, in 1993, the subject of an unauthorised but well-regarded biography Norma - A Biography by the Daily Telegraph journalist Tim Walker.

In June 1999 she was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours, in recognition of her charity work. Major was a supporter of Mencap and credited with helping to raise £6 million for the charity.[1]

Titles from birth[edit]

Major's styles since her birth in chronological order are:

  • Miss Norma Wagstaff (1942–45)
  • Miss Norma Johnson (1945–70)
  • Mrs. John Major (1970–99)
  • Dame Norma Major, DBE (1999–present)
  • Lady Major, DBE (2005–present)

Norma Major has been created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and she is named as Dame Norma Major in legal documents. As the wife of a Knight of the Garter, she may use also the courtesy title of "Lady" as a prefix to her surname, provided she uses her husband’s surname. Although this title places her higher in the Order of Precedence than her Damehood, she prefers to use the style Dame Norma Major as she acquired this distinction in her own right.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Norma Major honoured for fundraising". BBC. 12 June 1999. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 
  2. ^ Note: a wife of a knight who is also appointed a dame, may choose between her own style, Dame [given names] [surname], or the style of a wife of a knight, Lady [surname]. See Debrett's Online - Forms of Addresses: Address a Dame. Norma prefers to use the style Dame Norma Major as she acquired this distinction in her own right.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Major minor goes home". BBC. 29 July 2000. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 
  5. ^ "The miraculous Major-Balls". BBC. May 21, 1999. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Denis Thatcher
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1990–1997
Succeeded by
Cherie Blair