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Telegraph / News - Politics

Princess Diana beats the Virgin Mary to be named the nation's ideal mother, Church of England poll finds

You might think that in a Church survey about the "ideal mother", the Virgin Mary would be an obvious winner.

You might think that in a Church survey about the "ideal mother", the Virgin Mary would be an obvious winner. 

But the Church of England's own Mothering Sunday poll has thrown up a surprising result. 

Princess Diana beat the mother of Jesus Christ to the top spot, and was named the ideal mother by five per cent of respondents - the most popular single choice. 

The Virgin Mary only made eighth place, behind both the Queen and Michelle Obama.

"My own mother" was the second-most popular choice, followed by Mother Theresa, with the Queen coming fourth. 

Men were marginally more likely to choose their own mother, while women were more likely to choose Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Last year the Princess's sons spoke for the first time about her for a documentary, with Prince Harry describing her as "the best mum in the world". 

The ITV documentary, entitled Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, also included comments from Prince William about her personality. 

Raphael's Virgin and Child with John the Baptist, known as the Esterhazy MadonnaCredit:PA

“She was very informal and really enjoyed the laughter and the fun,” he said. “She understood that there was a real life outside of Palace walls.”

Some of the public's choices had a literary origin, with more respondents choosing Molly Weasley, the mother of Harry Potter's friend Ron Weasley in JK Rowling's novels, and fictional nanny Mary Poppins, than picking the mother of God as their ideal mother. 

As well as royals and fictional characters, many of the choices were American in origin. 

The Virgin Mary did, manage to beat Mrs March, otherwise known as Marmee, of the American civil war novel Little Women, and Marge Simpson, of the US cartoon the Simpsons, who came in ninth and tenth respectively. 

Emily Watson as 'Marmee' in the recent BBC adaption of Little Women Credit:Patrick Redmond 

Kate Middleton, or the Duchess of Cambridge, was also mentioned by participants, as was Olivia Walton, who was played by Michael Learned on American TV drama the Waltons, which ran during the 1970s and 80s.

The poll, of 2,000 people, carried out by ComRes, also asked respondents about the most important things that their mother had done for them. 

One in three said their mother had always been there to support them when needed, and one in five said she had taught them to do the right thing. 

Ten per cent said she had taught them the value of hard work and seven per cent of both women and men said their mother had been a positive role model. 

Julie Andrews as Mary PoppinsCredit:Disney

Others said she had spoken up for them, or that they had had fun together. 

The Revd Dr Sandra Millar, head of life events at the Church of England, said: “It’s great to hear that people appreciate mums way beyond stereotypes of cooking and cleaning.

“Being there for you, teaching and modelling good values and working hard are qualities that inspire and shape lives."

Many churches run services and activities to mark mother's day, and the church's website lists examples of "heroic Bible mums" including Mary, Sarah, the mother of Isaac, and Moses's mother.