Boris Johnson has become the first Prime Minister in nearly two centuries to marry while in office.
The ceremony at Westminster Cathedral, less than two miles from Downing Street, was the culmination of a six month “cloak and dagger” operation, insiders claim.
So secretive were the plans that even senior members of staff in Mr Johnson’s office were kept in the dark about yesterday’s wedding to Carrie Symonds.
Number 10 only confirmed in a brief statement this morning that the ceremony had taken place.
The 56-year-old PM and his 33-year-old bride were only allowed to invite 30 guests thanks to Covid regulations, having opted – unlike thousands of other couples across the UK – not to put their nuptials back.
She wore a £2,870 gown by Greek-based luxury designer Christos Costarellos, it has been reported.
Guests are believed to have been invited at the last minute to the ceremony, with bemused tourists ushered out of the building shortly before their arrival.
They later celebrated at a marquee in the garden at Number 10, according to reports, with the couple said to have danced to Don McLean song American Pie.
Carrie wore a long white dress with no veil, witnesses said, while the PM is said to have looked “very dapper” for the occasion. There have been no pictures released of the happy couple – yet.
In an apparent red herring, Mr Johnson and Carrie reportedly sent out save-the-date cards for June 30 next year.
A No10 spokesman said this morning: “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.”
Mr Johnson will return to work after the Bank Holiday weekend, and will postpone their honeymoon until next summer, sources said.
This morning Tory MP James Cleverly shared a picture of the couple seemingly in the garden in Downing Street following the ceremony.
It shows bunting and hay bales, with Carrie dressed in a ‘boho-chic’ dress with a flower garland around her head.
By that stage Mr Johnson had shed his tie and jacket, and was shown smiling with his wife.
The ceremony – the PM’s third marriage – was carried out by Father Daniel Humphreys, who had given the couple pre-marriage instructions, and baptised their son Wilfred last year, The Sun reports.
Wilfred was present as his parents exchanged vows. Shortly before the service, his mother posted a picture on Instagram of him surrounded by bluebells.
It is the first time since 1822 that a Prime Minister has married while in office – with Lord Liverpool the last to walk down the aisle while at the helm.
They were the first unmarried couple to live in Downing Street after Mr Johnson became PM in July 2019.
This morning pictures of the smiling couple looking into each other’s eyes were finally released, showing Carrie in a long white dress and the Prime Minister in a black suit with a blue tie.
The long tiered round-neck gown, which features floral embellishments and bell sleeves, cost £2,870, the Daily Mail reports.
Carrie reportedly arrived in a limousine shortly after the cathedral was cleared.
A witness told The Telegraph: “Carrie looked beautiful. She had a long white dress with no veil.”
Describing the happy couple, the insider continued: “He was extremely happy as you can imagine, he looked very smart, and was in a very dapper suit.”
The PM reportedly “couldn’t keep his eyes off” Carrie, who became his third wife at 1.30pm yesterday.
The couple delighted in keeping their plans secret until the last possible moment, a pal revealed.
A source close to the bride said: “They are both absolutely thrilled.
“The whole thing has been conducted amid great secrecy and planned meticulously.
“It was just their secret and that made the day so special.”
A gazebo was visible in the garden of 10 Downing Street this morning, while musicians were pictured leaving last night.
Security was tight around the Catholic cathedral, with staff – who did not know the couple’s identity until the day before – saying there were police “everywhere”.
Details of those invited have been kept under wraps, but Mr Johnson’s dad Stanley and siblings Rachel, Jo and Leo were in attendance.
“The bride and groom are both parishioners of the Westminster Cathedral parish and baptised Catholics.
“All necessary steps were taken, in both church and civil law, and all formalities completed before the wedding.”
The couple’s relationship became public just months after Mr Johnson separated from second wife Marina Wheeler in 2018.
He and Ms Wheeler have four children together.
His first marriage to Allegra Mostyn-Owen was annulled in 1993.
He proposed to his partner during a holiday to Mustique at the end of 2019, which he says was paid for by Tory donor David Ross.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, confirmed earlier this month that she is still investigating whether he properly declared the holiday on the private island 16 months ago.
The joyous occasion comes at the end of a troubling week for the PM, with former aide Dominic Cummings making a series of explosive allegations about his handling of the Covid crisis.
Among these were claims he said the virus “only” killed 80-year-olds, and he backed up claims Mr Johnson said “let the bodies pile high in their thousands”.
Mr Cummings also claimed that in February 2020, when the pandemic was becoming a major global crisis, Mr Johnson was “distracted by finalising his divorce, his girlfriend wanted to announce being pregnant and an engagement, and his finances”.
And on Friday a watchdog said it was “unwise” of him to have gone ahead with a controversial refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, which was overseen by Carrie.
Today Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News he did not get an invite to the wedding.
But he added: “I want to congratulate the Prime Minister and Carrie Symonds on tying the knot.
“A great feeling as you come together and of course I think it’s a wonderful thing for both of them that they have really made their marriage vows to one another.”
Mr Zahawi said people should not use the ceremony to speculate that weddings won’t be able to go ahead without caps on numbers from June 21. He said the decision simply isn’t made yet.
He added: “I wouldn’t extrapolate anything from that.
“On June 14 we will set out very clearly the data we are continuing to gather from Step 3 from May 17 and share that with the nation.”
Labour MP Jon Trickett posted: “It’s a good way to try to bury bad news.”
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster was one of the first politicians to react to the news, tweeting: “Huge congratulations to Boris Johnson & Carrie Symonds on your wedding today.”
Meanwhile Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, said: “What pleasant news. I wish the Prime Minister and Carrie well, and hope he has time for a honeymoon!”