In a video that went viral a few years ago, Boris Johnson famously recites the beginning of the Iliad in its original Ancient Greek script. He speaks clearly and with confidence, showing near-perfect pronunciation of the ancient novel considered by some scholars to have been the first novel ever written. Videos of his recital can be found on YouTube, but one is linked below for your convenience!
Johnson is known to the public primarily by his first and second names, but his full name is actually quite the tongue twister. In full, he is called ‘Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’. Now, I’m not sure about you, but I honestly couldn’t even tell you how to pronounce his fourth name without giving it a quick Google search. The ‘de Pfeffel’ part of his name is believed to be driven from his Bavarian and German descent.
Boris’ ancestry is actually quite diverse, having a half-French grandmother, some German ancestors and also a Turkish great grandfather named Ali Kemal who was born in 1869. Ali Kemal was the son of a wealthy merchant in central Anatolia - then a province of the Ottoman Empire, now Turkey. At some point in his life, he took his first wife, an Englishwoman, who would be Boris’ great-grandmother.
For such a complicated man as Johnson, it only follows that he would have a complicated love life. Indeed, Johnson has been married a grand total of three times. His first marriage was to Allegra Mostyn-Owen. The couple married in 1987 after meeting at the University of Oxford and divorced six years later. After that, he married his second wife Marina Wheeler. A barrister, the two were together for a long fifteen years until their marriage fell apart after Johnson was spotted by the press having an affair with Carrie Symonds, who would later become his wife and is still his wife to this day.
His list of political achievements, accomplishments and offices held stretches quite far back. Prior to his premiership as Prime Minister for which most know him for and for which he will most certainly be remembered, Johnson was twice elected as the Mayor of London. Furthermore, he has been the Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015, before that having been MP for Henley from 2001 to 2008.
Being the first Prime Minister to be born outside of the United Kingdom since Andrew Bonar Law’s premiership over a hundred years ago, Boris Johnson was actually born in Manhattan in New York City to British parents. He held dual citizenship for both the United States and the United Kingdom until 2016, when he renounced his United States citizenship. It is likely that he did this due to the fact that it freed him of major tax payments he would have owed as a citizen of the United States.
Boris Johnson received the typical education you’d expect a member of the British elite to receive, being sent to the prestigious Eton College by his father for his youth. As an adult, he attended the University of Oxford at Balliol College. He studied the Classics, which focuses on the literature of ancient civilizations such as Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece.
Boris Johnson stands at precisely the average height for an Englishman. In an interview in 2020, the former mayor stated that he was “only about 5’10”.
Johnson’s great-grandmother, Marie Louise de Pfeffel, was a member of the nobility and a descendent of Prince Paul of Wurttemberg. By extension, this makes Johnson a distant descendent of King George II, and all the previous British royal houses through George II’s great grandfather, King James I of England!
Despite his privileged status and what you might otherwise expect of a high-ranking Conservative, Boris Johnson was actually one of the first Conservative MPs in the upper echelons of the party to publicly support the Marriage for Same Sex Couples Act. He also voted yes on the Civil Partnership Bill in the House of Lords.