Home Secretary Theresa May is the new U.K. prime minister and the leader of the Conservative Party after her last remaining rival, Andrea Leadsom took herself out of the running. May, 59, will be the first female U.K. prime minister since the late Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990.
1. The Mays Have Been Married For Over 35 Years
Theresa May and Philip John May, who is two years younger, met while May was attending St. Hugh’s College, one of the colleges at the University of Oxford. Philip John May is also a graduate of Oxford. He’s a banker and currently working at Capital Group. The two were introduced by Benazir Bhutto, who would go on to be the prime minister of Pakistan and was assassinated in 2007, at a Conservative Party dance. According to a 2014 Guardian profile of May, the two both love cricket.
The Independent reports that the couple life in Sonning-on-Thames, where they have several famous neighbors. George and Amal Clooney live nearby, as does Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
2. May’s Parents Died Within Months of Each Other
May’s personal life was struck by tragedy just a year after she married Philip. When the couple married at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Wheatley in Oxfordshire, May’s father, The Rev. Hubert Brasier, was vicar. In 1981, he died from head and spine injuries from a car crash, The Telegraph reports.
Only a few months later, her mother, Zaidee, died. Her mother had multiple sclerosis. May was 25 at the time.
May does not talk about her private life often, but did say during an episode of Desert Island Discs in 2014, that Philip was her rock. “That was very important for me. He was a real rock for me,” she said.
“It was dreadful… Theresa had Philip and Philip saw her through that. He was and remains her rock,” a friend, Alicia Collinson, told The Telegraph.
3. She Was Close to Her Father & Is Still Religious
May was an only child and was very close to her father. Religion remains important to her, but she told Desert Island Discs that it wasn’t imposed. She “never took issue with the church,” she said.
While politicians in the U.S. like to make religion an issue, May doesn’t. “It is part of me, part of whom I am and how I approach things. It’s good that we don’t flaunt such things in British politics,” May told Desert Island Discs.
4. Not Having Children Is an ‘Ultra-Sensitive Topic’ for May
In a 2012 interview with The Telegraph, May called not having children one of those “ultra-sensitive subjects.”
“It just didn’t happen. This isn’t something I generally go into, but things just turned out as they did,” she told the Telegraph. “You look at families all the time and you see there is something there that you don’t have.”
In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, May noted that she has many godchildren.
After it became clear that May had a good chance of becoming prime minister, she did an interview with The Daily Mail, in which she admitted that not having children has affected them.
“Of course, we were both affected by it,” May told the Daily Mail. “You see friends who now have grown-up children, but you accept the hand that life deals you. Sometimes things you wish had happened don’t or there are things you wish you’d been able to do, but can’t. There are other couples in a similar position.”
5. May Said They Do Wish They Could Have a Family
May also told The Daily Mail that she was sure not having children changed her political outlook.
“I don’t think so, it’s an impossible question because you can’t tell what you’d have been like if you’d been in a different position,” she said.
When asked if they do wish they had children, May said they did, but she believes people have to be at peace with what they have. “There are lots of problems people have. We are all different, we all have different circumstances and you have to cope with whatever it is, try not to dwell on things,” she said.
Andrea Leadsom had to apologize for telling the Times of London that she would have been a better prime minister because she has children. Leadsom was quoted as saying, “I don’t really know Theresa very well, but I am sure she will be really, really sad she doesn’t have children. So I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has got children, Theresa hasn’t,’ because I think that would be really horrible. But genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.”
Leadsom made a short statement on July 9, saying she was “disgusted” by how her comments were presented.
“I was pressed to say how my children had formed my views,” Leadsom told the Telegraph. “I didn’t want it to be used as an issue. Having children has no bearing on the ability to be PM. I deeply regret that anyone has got the impression that I think otherwise.”