Norma Major

Dame Norma Christina Elizabeth, Lady Major, DBE[lower-alpha 1] (née Wagstaff, formerly Johnson; born 12 February 1942) is an English philanthropist who is the wife of Sir John Major.

Lady Major

Spouse of the Prime Minister
of the United Kingdom
In role
28 November 1990  2 May 1997
Preceded bySir Denis Thatcher, 1st Bt
Succeeded byCherie Blair
Personal details
Norma Christina Elizabeth Wagstaff

(1942-02-12) 12 February 1942
Shropshire, England
Political partyConservative
Sir John Major (m. 1970)
EducationLondon South Bank University


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

The young 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.[3] 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.[3] The couple married on 3 October 1970.

They have a son together, James Major,[4] and a daughter, Elizabeth Major.[5] She kept a low profile during the time her husband was in office as Prime Minister (1990–1997), 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).[3]

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.[3] Major is a supporter of Mencap,[3] and has been credited with helping to raise £6,000,000 for the charity.[2]

Titles from birth

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

  • 1942–1945: Miss Norma Wagstaff
  • 1945–1970: Miss Norma Johnson
  • 1970–1999: Mrs John Major
  • 1999–present: Dame Norma Major DBE

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.


  1. 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].[1] Major prefers to use the style Dame Norma Major,[2] as she acquired this distinction in her own right.


  1. "Dame". Debrett's. Archived from the original on 7 August 2009.
  2. "Norma Major honoured for fundraising". BBC News. 12 June 1999. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  3. "John Major". Archived from the original on 16 October 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  4. "Major minor goes home". BBC News. 29 July 2000. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  5. "The miraculous Major-Balls". BBC News. 21 May 1999. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
Unofficial roles
Preceded by
Sir Denis Thatcher
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Cherie Blair

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