In Depth

Allegra Mostyn-Owen and Marina Wheeler: the wives of PM Boris Johnson

The prime minister now resides in Downing Street with his live-in girlfriend Carrie Symonds

Boris Johnson and his estranged wife Marina Wheeler have reached a financial settlement and will now divorce, court proceedings reveal.

Reporters were forbidden from revealing financial details or identifying any child at this morning’s family court hearing, says Sky News.

However, legal papers showed that Johnson and Wheeler had been in dispute over money or assets and that Wheeler had begun litigation – she was named as the “petitioner”, while Johnson was the “respondent”.

Neither of the two was present in court to hear Judge Sarah Gibbons give Wheeler permission to apply for a divorce decree which will bring her marriage to the prime minister to a legal end, 27 years after they tied the knot.

In the ten-minute hearing at the Central Family Court in London, Gibbons was told that the pair had reached an agreement on the division of money. Johnson was represented in court by Neil Russell and Wheeler by Lucy Stone QC.

The prime minister currently lives in Downing Street with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, making him the first PM to live on the famous road with an unmarried partner.

So who were Boris Johnson’s wives and what went wrong?

Allegra Mostyn-Owen 

Johnson met his first wife while they were both students at Oxford University in the 1980s. He was president of the Oxford Union, while she had already graced the cover of Tatler magazine. The daughter of Italian writer Gaia Servadio and art historian William Mostyn-Owen, she grew up in Aberuchill Castle, in Perthshire.

The pair married in 1987, when they were both aged 23, but her mother says they were not compatible from the start. “Boris is a man who needed someone very obedient and silent, who would be willing to stay in the background and create a soothing home life, while giving him space to build a glittering career. My daughter wasn’t that kind of person,” said Servadio.

The couple both began careers in journalism and Johnson later became Brussels correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. “Allegra joined him there but felt alienated in the city,” says the Daily Mail. In February 1990 she fled back to London and their divorce was finalised three years later.

Mostyn-Owen remarried in 2010, to a Pakistani man 22 years her junior. At that time, she was reported to be running workshops for young Muslims at a London mosque.

Last year, a friend of Mostyn-Owen told The Sunday Times that she had witnessed Johnson’s “angry” temper in the 1980s. Louisa Gosling, now 51, claimed Mostyn-Owen had sought sanctuary in her flat after what was said to be a “blazing row” with Johnson and that he later cornered her, demanding to know what his wife had been saying. Johnson declined to comment.

Mostyn-Owen also refused to talk about the claims when approached by reporters, although she did hold up a copy of the New Statesman magazine showing a cartoon of Johnson in a cage under the headline “Restraining order”. She apparently said: “I think this is a very good cover.”

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Marina Wheeler 
Marina Wheeler and Boris Johnson

Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty

The elder daughter of BBC correspondent Sir Charles Wheeler and his Indian wife Dip Singh, Marina Wheeler graduated from Cambridge and later became a human rights barrister. She was appointed a QC in 2016.

Wheeler was heavily pregnant by Johnson when his divorce from Mostyn-Owen was finalised in March 1993, reports the Mail, “and they married 12 days later”. They went on to have four children: Lara Lettice, Milo Arthur, Cassia Peaches and Theodore Apollo.

Johnson was accused of multiple affairs during their marriage.

The HuffPost reports: “An alleged fling with socialite Petronella Wyatt saw the couple split briefly in 2004, and they did so again after Johnson was accused of fathering a love child with arts consultant Helen Macintyre in 2010.”

In September, Wheeler and Johnson announced that they had been separated for “several months” and that a divorce was under way. “As friends we will continue to support our four children in the years ahead,” they said in a brief statement. “We will not be commenting further.”


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