Boris Johnson marries Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral

By Hazel Shearing & Kathryn Snowdon
BBC News

image copyrightRebecca Fulton/Downing Street/PA Wire
image captionBoris Johnson and Carrie Symonds in the garden of 10 Downing Street after their wedding

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has married his fiancee Carrie Symonds in a secretly-planned wedding at Westminster Cathedral.

The marriage took place in a "small ceremony" on Saturday afternoon, a Downing Street spokesman said.

The spokesman added that the couple would celebrate again with family and friends next summer, with their honeymoon also delayed until then.

The prime minister has already returned to work.

He is the first PM to get married while in office in nearly 200 years.

The Mail on Sunday reported that 30 guests were invited to the ceremony at short notice - the maximum number of attendees allowed under Covid restrictions in England.

A small number of church officials were involved in preparations for the Catholic ceremony, which was officiated by Father Daniel Humphreys, it said.

Although Mr Johnson, 56, has been married twice before, the Roman Catholic Church can allow divorcees to remarry if the previous marriages were outside the Roman Catholic Church.

'Keeping this under wraps can't have been easy'

Boris Johnson likes to avoid talking about his private life - he's declined to answer questions on the topic for the past few years.

It can't have been easy to keep yesterday's wedding - between a former journalist and someone who works in public relations - under wraps.

But it seems to have taken almost everyone in Westminster by surprise.

Such was the desire to keep it quiet, Downing Street only officially confirmed it had happened on Sunday morning - the day after the wedding.

Christopher Lamb, Rome correspondent for Catholic magazine The Tablet, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "There will be a feeling that, why are some people who are divorced allowed to be married in the church and others not?

"And I think that's where the Church, I think, can look at its current rules and see how it can become more welcoming. It has been welcoming to Boris Johnson, why not to others?"

Father Mark Drew, assistant priest at St Joseph's Church in Penketh, Warrington, said he has previously had to tell Catholic couples going through a divorce they are not able to remarry in the Church.

"It looks to them - rightly or wrongly - as if the Church is applying double standards and I do fear that this decision does make the Church look bad."

Just one official photograph has been released - the day after the wedding - showing the couple in the garden at 10 Downing Street in the hours following the ceremony.

However, Conservative MP James Cleverly shared a different photograph of the newlyweds enjoying their garden reception in the Saturday sunshine, with decorations and a table of refreshments visible in the background.

At this stage in the day's proceedings, Mrs Johnson is seen barefoot and her husband has dispensed with his jacket and tie.

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Downing Street did not reveal any details of who was invited and whether any of Mr Johnson's Cabinet colleagues were among the guests.

Several politicians have congratulated the couple, including Home Secretary Priti Patel, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey.

Ms Patel wrote on Twitter: "Many Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Johnson @BorisJohnson and @CarrieSymonds. Wishing you both much love and happiness."

Musicians were pictured leaving No 10 on Saturday night.

image captionPeople carrying musical instruments were seen leaving Downing Street on Saturday evening

Members of the public were asked to leave Westminster Cathedral just after 13:30 BST, the Sun reported.

The new Mrs Johnson - who has confirmed she will take her husband's surname - wore a white dress to exchange vows with the prime minister.

Her wedding dress was designed by Athens-based Christos Costarellos, who studied at the London College of Fashion and describes his work as being "inspired by the spirit of ancient Greek philosophy".

The last prime minister to get married while in office was Robert Banks Jenkinson in 1822.

Mrs Johnson used to work in the Conservative Party press office, which she joined in 2010, and two years later she worked on Mr Johnson's successful campaign to be re-elected as mayor in London.

She became the party's head of communications before leaving in 2018 to work in public relations for marine conservation organisation Oceana. Mrs Johnson then became head of communications for conservation group the Aspinall Foundation in January.

The couple were first romantically linked by the media in early 2019. In February 2020, they revealed that they were engaged and that she was pregnant.

Their son, Wilfred, was born last April.

Mr Johnson and his previous wife, Marina Wheeler, announced in 2018 that they were divorcing after 25 years of marriage.

He was previously married to Allegra Mostyn-Owen.

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