Princess Diana beats Virgin Mary as nation's best mum

She may be dearly loved and revered, but Princess Diana is not yet the focus of prayer for millions around the world.

And yet the Duchess of Wales comfortably beat the Virgin Mary as the ideal mother, according to a Church of England poll ahead of Mothering Sunday.

Last year Prince William and Prince Harry spoke for the first time about Diana for an ITV documentary, with Prince Harry describing her as 'the best mum in the world'.Reuters/Ian Waldie

With one in 20 (five per cent) naming Prince William and Prince Harry's mother as the ideal figure, Diana was easily the most popular single choice.

In fact Jesus' mother only came in eighth place, backed by one per cent, behind Mother Theresa, the Queen and Michelle Obama among others.

'My own mother' was the second most popular choice with men marginally more likely to choose their own mother and women more likely to choose Diana, Princess of Wales

Even JK Rowling's fictional character Molly Weasley, Ron and Ginny's mother, and Mary Poppins came ahead of Mary in people's view of the ideal mother, according to an online poll of 2,015 people by ComRes.

The poll commissioned by the Church of England also asked what the most important thing people's mothers had done for them.

One in three said she 'was always there to support me when I needed her' while one in five (18 per cent) said it was that she had taught them to do the right thing and just over one in 10 (11 per cent) singled out the fact that she had shown them the value of hard work.

Rev 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.

'The Church of England will be celebrating all these qualities this weekend with thousands of families across the country in schools, communities and churches.'