Where is Boris Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds?
Pregnant Symonds unable to visit Johnson as he battles coronavirus
Boris Johnson, who is currently in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London, has reportedly been unable to see his pregnant fiance Carrie Symonds for nearly a fortnight.
The prime minister first fell ill on 27 March and had been self-isolating at No. 11 Downing Street, while Symonds is understood to have come down with symptoms over the weekend while self-isolating in the couple’s Camberwell home with their dog Dilyn.
A blanket ban on visitors means she is unable to be by his side in hospital.
“This is a horrible, horrible situation, just ghastly,” the PM’s biographer, Sonia Purnell, told Sky News.
“You can't even accompany your loved one in the hospital. I can only imagine the agony of Carrie Symonds, his fiancee, who as we know is due to give birth in the early summer. This is a nightmare all round and also a nightmare for the whole country.”
So who is Symonds?
Daughter of The Independent co-founder Matthew Symonds and Josephine Mcaffee, one of the newspaper’s lawyers, she grew up in southwest London and attended the private Godolphin and Latymer School.
In 2007, at the age of 19, Symonds was targeted by serial rapist John Worboys, who used his job as a black cab driver to offer his victims spiked drinks and then assault them while they were passed out or semi-conscious.
Symonds later found out about Worboys’ other victims and was among those who expressed outrage when a parole board ordered his release, eventually forcing a High Court ruling in 2018 to keep him behind bars, reports The Times.
Symonds studied at Warwick University and graduated with a first-class honours degree in art history and theatre studies. She joined Conservative HQ as a press officer in 2009, where the “gregarious, intelligent, ambitious, strong-minded and attractive” Symonds “quickly made a name for herself”, according to the Daily Mail.
How did she meet Johnson?
Symonds first met Johnson in 2012 when she was seconded to work on his London mayor re-election campaign, later becoming director of communications at Conservative Campaign headquarters.
“Eyebrows were raised” in March 2018 when social media posts revealed that Johnson, and his colleagues Michael Gove and Sajid Javid, had attended her “alcohol-fuelled 30th birthday bash”, says The Telegraph.
Johnson announced in September 2018 that he was divorcing his second wife, barrister Marina Wheeler, “swiftly thrusting the MP’s intimate relationship with Symonds into the spotlight”, says the newspaper.
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The pair are believed to have hosted a champagne and canape party just before New Year’s Eve. “At one point, guests saw Boris drape himself around Carrie before leaning in for a kiss,” claims The Sun on Sunday, which in January published photographs showing Symonds “cheekily tweaking the ex-foreign secretary’s bottom in the street”.
Symonds dominated the headlines last summer after it was reported that police were called to her house following an alleged bust-up with Johnson. Neither of them commented on the incident and police said no action was taken as all occupants of the address were “safe and well”.
In February this year, the pair announced their engagement and that Symonds was expecting a baby in early summer.
In a post on her private Instagram account, she wrote: “Many of you already know but for my friends that still don't, we got engaged at the end of last year... and we've got a baby hatching early summer. Feel incredibly blessed.”
It will be a third marriage for Johnson - who split with his first wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen, in 1993 and agreed a divorce settlement with his second wife Marina Wheeler in February.
How much influence does she have?
Symonds quit her role at Tory HQ in August 2019 to take up a role with Bloomberg, working in PR for the media giant’s ecological initiative Vibrant Oceans.
However, her political influence has reportedly remained in place.
In The Spectator, edited by Johnson from 1999 to 2005, Harry Mount suggests Symonds was the reason the former London mayor and foreign secretary is “thinner and more smartly dressed than he’s been for years”.
It has also been suggested that Symond’s influence was involved in Johnson’s decision to toughen sentences for sexual and violent offenders.
Grazia reports: “It would make sense that Carrie would act as a representative in Downing Street for women who have been victimised by short prison sentences for rapists.”