Boris Johnson Married in Stealth Ceremony


LONDON — Only a week ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, sent friends save-the-date cards for a wedding in July 2022, according to several British newspapers. But on Saturday, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Symonds were married in a stealth ceremony at Westminster Cathedral in London.

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office confirmed on Sunday: “The prime minister and Ms. Symonds were married yesterday afternoon in a small ceremony at Westminster Cathedral. The couple will celebrate their wedding with family and friends next summer.”

It was a characteristically dramatic twist for a relationship that had unfolded in a frenetic way from the very start.

Mr. Johnson, 56, moved into his official residence in Downing Street with Ms. Symonds in 2019 before his divorce from his second wife, Marina Wheeler, had been completed. Ms. Symonds gave birth to a son, Wilfred, last spring, only weeks after Mr. Johnson had survived a near-fatal bout with Covid-19.

It is the third marriage for Mr. Johnson and the first for Ms. Symonds, 33, who has recently come under scrutiny for her role in an expensive refurbishment of the prime minister’s official quarters at Downing Street, which was initially financed by a donor to the Conservative Party.

The afternoon wedding, in London’s main Roman Catholic cathedral — less than a mile from 10 Downing Street — was carried out in extreme secrecy, according to The Mail on Sunday and The Sun, which first reported the marriage on Saturday evening. Even Mr. Johnson’s close aides were not told in advance of the ceremony. At about 1:30 p.m., according to The Sun, the church was abruptly cleared of visitors, and Mr. Johnson and his bride pulled up in a limousine.

In accordance with coronavirus restrictions, there were only 30 guests in the byzantine-style church — including Mr. Johnson’s father, Stanley — all of whom had been invited at short notice. Ms. Symonds wore a long white dress but no veil, according to The Sun. The couple’s year-old son was among the witnesses.

Though the wedding was not confirmed by Downing Street until Sunday, news reports on Saturday evening drew congratulations from political figures, including Arlene Foster, the first minister of Northern Ireland, who said on Twitter, “Huge congratulations to Boris Johnson & Carrie Symonds on your wedding today.”

Mr. Johnson is the first British prime minister to be married in office since Lord Liverpool married Mary Chester in 1822, his second marriage. But much about Mr. Johnson and Ms. Symonds’s relationship has seemed unorthodox by the relatively conventional standards of Downing Street.

Mr. Johnson, who was baptized as a Catholic by his mother, converted to the Anglican faith while in boarding school. He met Ms. Symonds, a Catholic and a former Conservative Party communications aide, while he was married to his second wife, Marina Wheeler, with whom he has four children.

Mr. Johnson has never publicly confirmed how many children he has.

Mr. Johnson and Ms. Symonds disclosed that they were engaged, and that she was pregnant, in February 2020, a month after Britain had formally left the European Union. That happy news was quickly overtaken by the pandemic, which claimed Mr. Johnson as an early victim when he became ill and ended up in an intensive care unit.

Ms. Symonds, who works for an animals-rights group, also contracted Covid and wrote on Twitter about her fears during those days.

More recently, she has been pulled into a furor over the costly renovation of the couple’s apartment at 11 Downing Street. A Conservative Party donor, David Brownlow, paid for some of the work, supplementing the state budget of 30,000 pounds, or $42,570, provided for redecorating the apartment. Mr. Johnson said he had picked up the cost of the refurbishment when he was told of the arrangement.

On Friday, an independent ethics adviser appointed by the government declared that Mr. Johnson had acted “unwisely” in the refurbishment of the apartment but that he had not violated the ministerial code of conduct.



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