LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson married his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, in a secret ceremony at Westminster Cathedral, the first time a British leader has married in office in 199 years.
“The Prime Minister and Ms. Symonds were married yesterday afternoon in a small ceremony at Westminster Cathedral,” a Downing Street spokeswoman confirmed Sunday morning. Symonds is taking her husband’s family name and will now be known as Carrie Johnson.
The bride and groom appear to have outfoxed the British media with their top-secret nuptials. Johnson dislikes discussing his private life with the media.
The Sun newspaper reported recently that the couple sent save-the-date cards telling guests they would “celebrate their wedding” on July 30, 2022.
On Saturday evening, the Sun became the first to report the wedding, saying the couple exchanged vows in a Catholic ceremony that caught senior staff off guard.
“Boris Johnson MARRIES Carrie Symonds at Westminster cathedral in ceremony so secret even top aides didn’t know about it,” ran the headline in the Sun.
Downing Street, asked Saturday if the couple were hitched, said “no comment.” But on Sunday morning, with many British newspapers carrying the story on their front pages and the BBC featuring photos of musicians leaving Downing Street on Saturday night, it confirmed the reports.
It also released a photo of the newlyweds smiling at each other in the garden of 10 Downing Street. The bride wore a white dress and a floral headband; the groom, a black suit and blue tie, with a white rose boutonniere.
Conservative lawmaker James Cleverly posted a photo of the newlyweds on social media.
The prime minister’s office said the couple would celebrate with family and friends next summer.
Britain is emerging from its third national lockdown. Weddings are still limited to a maximum of 30 attendees.
The wedding comes at the end of a difficult week for Johnson, whose former chief adviser lashed out at the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Johnson and his wife live with their 1-year-old son, Wilfred, in a lavishly renovated apartment at 11 Downing Street, the financing of which is the subject of several probes. They were the first unwed couple to occupy the government’s Downing Street complex.
The last prime minister to marry while in office was Robert Banks Jenkinson, who married Mary Chester in 1822, after the death of his first wife.
Carrie Johnson, a prominent environmental activist, grew up in southwest London and studied art history and theater at Warwick University before going into politics. She became head of communications for the Conservative Party at 29. She has worked as a special adviser to senior Conservative lawmakers and was on the campaign team to help reelect Johnson when he was mayor of London.
It’s Boris Johnson’s third marriage and Carrie’s first. They announced their engagement in February 2020, the month Johnson reached a divorce settlement with Marina Wheeler, a lawyer and childhood friend with whom he has four children. They separated in 2018.
Johnson met his first wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen, when they were students at Oxford University. They wed in 1987. Less than two weeks after their divorce in 1993, Johnson married Wheeler, who was pregnant with their first child.
The Sun quoted an unnamed staff member saying that when Symonds walked down the aisle, Johnson “didn’t take his eyes off her. They read each other’s vows and then they shared a kiss. They looked besotted.”