LONDON - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson married his fiancee Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, capping a week of political drama with a wedding kept so under wraps that his office did not confirm it until the following day.
The event was not announced in advance and media reports on Saturday evening said guests were invited at the last minute to the Roman Catholic cathedral in central London, adding that even senior members of Johnson's office were unaware of the wedding plans.
"The Prime Minister and Ms Symonds were married yesterday afternoon in a small ceremony at Westminster Cathedral," Johnson's office said on Sunday. "The couple will celebrate their wedding with family and friends next summer."
Johnson, 56, and Symonds, 33, have been living together in Downing Street since Johnson became prime minister in 2019. They announced last year that they were engaged and their son, Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson, was born in April 2020.
The Conservative prime minister faced a barrage of criticism over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic after former chief adviser Dominic Cummings told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that his failings had caused thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Johnson brushed aside the allegations, saying on Thursday that "some of the commentary" bore no relation to reality. He said the government had done its best to follow the data and guidance it had to contain the pandemic.
SMILES AND FLOWERS
A wedding photo issued by the prime minister's office showed the couple smiling in the garden of 10 Downing Street after the ceremony.
Symonds wore a long white gown and a garland of white flowers in her hair while Johnson wore a dark suit, blue tie and a floral buttonhole.
The ceremony had to be low-key: weddings in England are currently limited to 30 people due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Media reports said that the cathedral was suddenly locked down at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Symonds arrived 30 minutes later in a limo.
Earlier this month the Sun had reported that wedding invitations had been sent to friends and family for July 2022.
Johnson, once dubbed "Bonking Boris" by Britain's tabloid media, has a complicated private life.
He was once fired from the Conservative Party's policy team while in opposition for lying about an extra-marital affair. He has been divorced twice and refuses to say how many children he has fathered.
Johnson's last marriage was to Marina Wheeler, a lawyer. They had four children together but announced in September 2018 that they had separated.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Paul Sandle Editing by Mark Potter, Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)