Boris Johnson has married Carrie Symonds in a low-key ceremony planned in strict secrecy – The Sun first reported that even senior Downing Street aides were totally unaware the couple were about to tie the knot on Saturday.
Initially, Downing Street would not comment on reports of the wedding, but on Sunday morning a spokesman said: “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.”
The pair exchanged vows in Westminster Cathedral in front of around 30 close friends and family.
Weddings in England are currently subject to strict coronavirus restrictions. Ceremonies are permitted for up to 30 people in Covid-secure venues. Wedding receptions are also allowed for up to 30 people in a Covid-secure venue or outdoors.
But dancing is advised against due to the increased risk of transmission, except the couple’s traditional first dance.
How did the ceremony take place?
The couple announced their engagement – together with the news that they were expecting their first child – in February last year.
It is Johnson’s third marriage, having finalised his divorce from his second wife Marina Wheeler in 2020. Their son, Wilfred, was born in April 2020.
The wedding ceremony at the Catholic cathedral was carried out by Father Daniel Humphreys, who had given the couple pre-marriage instructions, and baptised Wilfred last year, The Sun reported.
Shortly after 1.30pm, the cathedral was suddenly cleared of visitors, with staff saying it was going into lockdown, the newspaper said. Half an hour later, a limousine carrying the bride swept into the piazza outside the main west door.
Symonds wore a long white dress but not a veil, while Johnson was described as wearing a “very dapper” suit.
The ceremony meant Johnson became the first prime minister to marry whilst in office since Lord Liverpool married Mary Chester in 1822.
Johnson’s father Stanley was spotted in Downing Street after the ceremony, while guests and musicians were seen leaving No 10 on Saturday night.
‘A good way to bury bad news’
The wedding comes at the end of a difficult week for the Prime Minister in which his former aide Dominic Cummings branded him unfit for office.
The Prime Minister’s former aide said Symonds had been desperate to oust him from his role as Johnson’s right-hand man, and had sought to put her own friends in key positions.
Cummings also claimed that in February 2020, when the pandemic was becoming a major global crisis, Johnson was “distracted by finalising his divorce, his girlfriend wanting to announce being pregnant and an engagement, and his finances”.
Labour former frontbencher Jon Trickett said the wedding was “a good way to bury this week’s bad news” on Cummings’ testimony, the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant and the row about funding of the Downing Street flat.
Fellow Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi suggested the “emergency marriage plan” was an attempt to “deflect from negative press” from Cummings.
She added: “They know he won’t be able to plan one in Chequers cos he won’t be PM next year...”
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, NationalWorld