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LONDON – Just a week ago, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds sent friends save-the-date cards for a July 2022 wedding, according to several UK newspapers. But on Saturday, Mr Johnson and Mrs 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 in a small ceremony at Westminster Cathedral yesterday afternoon. The couple will celebrate their wedding with family and friends next summer. “
It was a characteristically dramatic turn to a relationship that had grown hectic from the start.
Mr Johnson, 56, moved to his official residence on Downing Street with Ms. Symonds in 2019 before his divorce from his second wife, Marina Wheeler, was finalized. Ms. Symonds gave birth to a son, Wilfred, last spring, just weeks after Mr. Johnson survived a near-fatal battle with Covid-19.
It is the third marriage for Mr Johnson and the first for Mrs Symonds, 33, who was recently scrutinized for her role in an expensive renovation of the Prime Minister’s Office building on Downing Street that was originally funded by a donor The Conservative Political party.
The afternoon wedding at London’s premier Roman Catholic cathedral – less than a mile from 10 Downing Street – was held in the utmost secrecy, according to The Mail and The Sun. Even Mr Johnson’s close associates were not informed prior to the ceremony. At around 1:30 p.m., The Sun said the church was abruptly cleared of visitors and Mr. Johnson and his bride pulled up in a limousine.
In compliance with coronavirus restrictions, the Byzantine-style church had only 30 guests – including Mr. Johnson’s father Stanley – all of whom had been invited on short notice. Ms. Symonds wore a long white dress, according to The Sun, but no veil. The couple’s one-year-old son was among the witnesses.
Although the wedding wasn’t confirmed on Downing Street until Sunday, Saturday night’s news reports included congratulations from political figures including Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s first female minister, who said on Twitter: “Congratulations to Boris Johnson & Carrie Symonds on yours wedding today. “
Mr Johnson is the first British Prime Minister to have married in office since Lord Liverpool married Mary Chester in 1822, his second marriage. But much of the relationship between Mr Johnson and Mrs Symonds appears to be unorthodox by the relatively conventional standards of Downing Street.
Mr Johnson, who was baptized a Catholic by his mother, converted to the Anglican faith in boarding school. He met Ms. Symonds, a Catholic and former Conservative Party communications advisor, 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 announced in February 2020, one month after the UK formally left the European Union, that they were engaged and that she was pregnant. That good news was quickly overtaken by the pandemic that claimed Mr Johnson as an early victim when he fell ill and ended up in an intensive care unit.
Ms. Symonds, who works for an animal rights group, also fell ill with Covid and wrote on Twitter about her fears these days.
More recently, she has become embroiled in an uproar 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 and added £ 30,000, or $ 42,570, to the state budget to renovate the home. Mr Johnson said he paid for the renovation when he found out about the agreement.
On Friday, a government-appointed independent ethics advisor said Mr Johnson was “unwise” in refurbishing the apartment but not in breach of ministerial code of conduct.