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“First the gold wallpaper. Now the gold wedding band,” says Hilary Rose in The Times. Carrie Symonds, 33, has become Carrie Johnson after the surprise wedding in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday. She walked down the aisle in a bohemian-looking wedding dress rented for £45 and wore a Maid Marian-style flower crown rather than a veil. A hippie-themed party in the Downing Street garden followed, featuring hay bales, bunting and a singalong to Don McLean’s American Pie. The wedding – a conveniently cheap affair for the cash-strapped PM, given the 30-person Covid limit – was reportedly six months in the planning. Decoy dresses were ordered and a 2022 RSVP was sent out to throw people off the scent. It’s the first time a prime minister has got married in office for 199 years.
Mrs Johnson’s previously “insecure”, even “disreputable”, position is now unassailable, says Melanie McDonagh in The Daily Telegraph. Her chief political opponent, Dominic Cummings, is out of government and her husband can’t afford another divorce, politically or financially. But “the Carrie Antoinette days must be over”. No more budget-blowing interior decoration that looks like a “tart’s boudoir”. No more getting friends hired and enemies dismissed. Her job is to support the PM and offer “sound advice”, not to make “incessant demands”.
First on the to-do list is next weekend’s G7 summit in Cornwall, where she will host the leaders’ spouses, says Caroline Davies in The Guardian. Years spent working in PR for the Tories has given her ample “political nous”. She’ll need it: seating arrangements at dinner mean it’s usually the spouse who must butter up, or mine information from, a key political leader. She has reportedly planned a Poldark theme, which can only be an improvement on the nanotechnology lecture Angela Merkel’s husband laid on in 2015. Of all the G7 spouses, only Akie Abe, the Japanese prime minister’s wife, turned up.
This “new Carrie era” is a crucial political shift, says Anne McElvoy in the Evening Standard. Her progressive views on feminism and the environment will bring out Boris’s “socially liberally streak” and soften his “rather brutal mercantilism”. The presence at the wedding of the PM’s childhood friend Hugo Dixon, an arch remainer, signals a post-Brexit peace in the Establishment. Mrs Johnson embodies “forward motion and a breezy carelessness about the past” – a “punishing” Covid inquiry next year will claim scalps, but not the PM’s. “The new Johnson and Johnson era” will be as much of a madhouse as before. But one “firmly glued to power”.
The Catholic divorce loophole
“It would have to be him, wouldn’t it,” says Peter Franklin in UnHerd. The fact that the twice-divorced PM could “somehow wangle a third marriage in a Roman Catholic cathedral” seems to be further evidence of his “charmed life”. The loophole is simple: Boris’s previous two marriages didn’t take place in the Catholic church. This one, according to Catholic canon law, is his first. But a Catholic marriage is recognised as a sacrament, “the dispensation of divine life to God’s people through His Church”. In other words, a very big deal. Let’s hope the couple “meant every last word” of their marriage vows.