When she got to Downing Street, the British tabloids had come out with this headline: “The first girlfriend at number 10”. A little less than two years later, Carrie Symonds – in total secrecy – she became the third wife of Boris Johnson, the first married in church (in the Catholic Cathedral of Westminster). A wedding for very few close friends, which then saw the premier barefoot on the lawn of Downing Street. And who made his detractors say: “Mrs Carrie’s rise is now complete.”
In recent months, even years, Carrie Symonds ora Johnson, 33, has been defined in every possible way. Lady Macbeth. Carrie Bolena, “gray eminence” behind the power of the conservative prime minister. So much so that a few months ago even Samantha Cameron took the field to defend her, wife of former prime minister David Cameron, criticizing those who claimed she had “undue influence” on the prime minister. But who is (really) Carrie Symonds? In the aftermath of the unexpected wedding, the United Kingdom continues to ask, without arriving at a shared answer.
Let’s start with the basics: Carrie Symonds, 23 years younger than the premiere, is the daughter of the co-founder of The Independent, and studied at one of London’s most prestigious private girls’ schools, then graduated with a degree in History and Theater at Warwick. Just 29 years old she later became director of communications for the British Conservative Party. But Carrie to be strong, determined and courageous, she had already proved it in 2007 when after risking being a victim of John Worboys, the London taxi driver later convicted as a serial rapist, it was she who provided – during the trial, renouncing anonymity – the key testimony to get to the sentence.
The first rumors of a relationship with Johnson date back to 2018, when she was already an important figure at the Tory headquarters in London. After all, she had been working there since 2009: first as a press officer and then behind the scenes of the successful campaign that led to the re-election of Johnson as Mayor of London. Those were the times, 2018, when he publicly praised him on Twitter, with phrases like «It’s really worth watching. Boris is absolutely brilliant in this week’s debate on Brexit and foreign policy ”. Early gossip material, as officially he was still related to Marina Wheeler, mother of four of her children: Lara, Cassia, Milo e Theodore.
In February of that year, Johnson, then 51 and foreign minister, was photographed “jokingly chatting with Miss Symonds,” at the exit of the Conservative Party’s Black and White Ball at the Natural History Museum. A week later, major British newspapers report a Valentine’s Day lunch at one of Johnson’s favorite haunts. Rules in Covent Garden. He first “scandal” it is traced back to the following month when social media reveal that Johnson, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid – all Cabinet heavyweights at the time – they were spotted “in a room full of drunk millennials” at the London Abba-style party for Carrie’s thirtieth birthday.
The turning point comes in September 2018: she leaves her position within the Conservative party, he divorces later 25 years of marriage. Gossip returns among his opponents: Boris sending a car to pick up Carrie from a colleague’s wedding. The marriage was a Penshurt Place, Kent, which was once home to King Henry VIII while secretly courting his mistress, Anna Bolena. Chat aside, it’s clear to everyone that the two seem to have many things in common: both metropolitan and sociable, both in the green area of the Tories, and both undeniably ambitious. Gossip is the order of the day now. The two avoid official occasions as a couple, but the rest don’t bother to disprove it. She, with friends, calls him “bozzie Bear”, and has a picture of her as wallpaper on her phone. In January 2019 Stanley Johnson, father of Boris, and Carrie Symonds participate together in a march against whaling.
Things get serious. He moves to live in her flat in Camberwell, South London. Neighbors are used to seeing him cycling through the streets of the neighborhood. After all, Carrie is as attentive to the environment and animals as she is to food. It is she who puts him on a diet and advises him to choose a neater haircut. In June 2019 it arrives the first official occasion: Carrie, in a red dress, attends the launch for the Conservative Party Leadership Campaign. We know the rest: shortly thereafter Johnson will be the new prime minister.
In those days the tension must be felt, so much so that the neighbors of Camberwell they call the police for the screams of an alleged quarrel. According to rumors, Boris would have screamed “Hands off my fucking computer” and she “you don’t give a damn about everything because you’re too spoiled. “ But when he opens the number door 10 Downing Street, Carrie follows him. IS adopt a dog: Follow, cucciolo di Jack Russell.
In December 2019 he gets the majority in the elections, on video he appears with Carrie on his right and the super councilor Cummings behind them. After, fly to Mustique. It is there, tell the well-informed, that he asks for her in marriage. Carrie, some time later, publishes a personal ad on her social networks: “Normally I wouldn’t post this kind of thing here, but I wanted my friends to find out for myself … many of you already know it, but for my friends who don’t know it yet, we got engaged at the end of last year … and we have a baby who will arrive at the beginning of the summer “, Carrie writes as a caption to a very informal photo: he – with a beard – kissing her on the cheek. Covid, however, also messes up their plans. They both get sick, the premier is very serious, ends up in hospital, while Carrie – pregnant with their first child – remains in isolation. Three weeks after Johnson’s admission to St Thomas’s Hospital in London, the baby is born: Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson, baptized as a Catholic, according to the wishes of his mother.
Symonds, nicknamed “first girlfriend” by everyone at number 10, becomes more and more important, and her detractors are becoming more and more aggressive. At the end of the year, Johnson’s advisers included the very powerful senior consultant Dominic Cummings, are forced to replacements. Tatler dedicates the cover to her. Title: “Carrie’s coup” or “Carrie’s coup”. In place of the old guard, an all-female triumvirate: the 39-year-old journalist Allegra Stratton, studies in the most prestigious private schools in London and then in Cambridge, she is nominated spokesman for the premier. While the role of adviser the 42-year-old conquers him increasingly influential Munira Mirza. The third, of course, is her.
Cummings, unsurprisingly, doesn’t step aside without a fight. His revenge is a succession of gossip and mud on the now powerful companion of the premier. From allegations of having refurbished to five stars the Downing Street apartment, with conservative party donor money, to personal and sexist attacks. Just because “young, blonde and spoiled”. Boris, we read, “is a puppet in his hands. Carrie is able to make him change his mind as he sees fit. ‘ But their supporters are also growing, who consider them victims of a retrograde and male chauvinist system. After all, Carrie is the new advocate, the supporter of the party’s green policy, the one who makes the premier jog in the Buckingham Palace gardens. And now that she is a wife, she wants to be “first lady” in the American sense. Will he succeed? So far, it must be said, he has never been wrong.