2018-06-07 02:56:41 UTC
Mary Wilson, widow of the prime minister Harold Wilson, dies aged 102
The widow of the former prime minister Harold Wilson has died aged 102 at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, after a stroke.
Lady Wilson of Rievaulx, a poet, was the oldest surviving prime ministerial spouse — the only centenarian among a small band that includes the Countess of Avon (Clarissa Eden), 97.
While Harold Wilson divided opinion, in the Labour Party as much as the country at large, his wife, Mary, inspired widespread affection and respect. Satirised in Private Eye’s Mrs Wilson’s Diary as suburban, subsequent accounts of her time in Downing Street reveal an independent woman.
She opposed Britain’s entry to the European Community in 1975 even as her husband supported the campaign to join and supported unilateral nuclear disarmament, which he opposed.
Her first volume of poetry, Selected Poems, in 1970, sold 75,000 copies.
Lady Wilson remained in a flat in Westminster long after the death of her husband in 1995, aged 79. Born Gladys Mary Baldwin in 1916 in Diss, Norfolk, she had met her future husband at a tennis club in Cheshire. They had two children.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear of the death of Mary Wilson. A wonderful poet and a huge support in Harold’s General Election victories. I send my condolences to her family and friends.”
Mrs Wilson’s funeral will be a private family one but memorial services are planned in London and the Isles of Scilly.