In December 2017, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted a video on Facebook describing her typical weekend routine for reading briefings ahead of Monday meetings. And when she raised her hand to gesture toward her briefcase of paperwork, some observers saw only one thing: a shiny ring on her fourth finger.
But that time, she quickly knocked down any speculation that her partner, Clarke Gayford, had proposed, when she later clarified to reporters that there was a much less exciting reason that her ring was on a different finger than usual.
“I am happy to confirm that I have eczema on my left hand that causes me to rotate where I wear my beautiful onyx ring, so no, I am not engaged,” she said, according to New Zealand news website Stuff.
“I do however suffer from a small skin condition, which is not very romantic,” she said. “Glad to have cleared that up.”
This time, it took nearly a week for anyone to notice her new ring. Or at least for anyone to ask about it.
Then, on Friday, a curious journalism intern popped the question: What’s up with the ring on her middle finger? The New York Times reported that the student noticed the ring at an event Friday and followed up with her office, which confirmed that this time, she is indeed engaged — even if she’s not wearing the new ring on her fourth finger. Reuters reported that her spokesman said she began wearing the ring over Easter.
Ardern and Gayford met at an event in 2012, according to New Zealand media. They later reconnected when he pursued a constituent complaint, and then they started dating. Gayford, 41, is the host of a televised fishing show called “Fish of the Day,” and he stays home with the couple’s infant daughter, Neve Te Aroha.
Ardern gave birth to Neve last year, becoming only the second elected leader in the world to give birth while in office. The first was Benazir Bhutto, who was prime minister of Pakistan when she gave birth in 1990.
Last year, Ardern was praised for bringing her partner and daughter to the United Nations General Assembly, demonstrating her work-home balance.
And she earned further international fame this year after her compassionate response to gun attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that left 51 people dead. (The death toll rose by one on Friday, after New Zealand police confirmed that a Turkish man who had been in critical condition since the attacks had died overnight.) Ardern’s government promptly passed legislation that banned certain weapons in the aftermath of the shootings.
Some were apparently waiting in hopeful anticipation that she and Gayford would tie the knot.
Earlier this year, a BBC interviewer asked Ardern whether she had ever consider popping the question to Gayford herself. Ardern responded by laughing and said she would not ask him.
“I want to put him through the pain and torture of having to agonize about that question himself. That’s letting him off the hook. Absolutely not,” she joked.
“Okay, fair enough,” the BBC interviewer responded. “We await that day.”