British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s girlfriend, Carrie Symonds is the ‘first lady’ that stands by his side while in office.
Symonds is an ex-PR chief. She is 24 years younger than Boris.
Who is Carrie Symonds?
Carrie had a privileged upbringing in southwest London, according to Hello! magazine.
She is the daughter of The Independent co-founder Matthew Symonds and one of the newspaper’s lawyers Josephine Mcaffee.
She grew up in East Sheen and was enrolled in private school Godolphin and Latymer School in Hammersmith before studying history of art and theatre studies at the University of Warwick, where she graduated with first-class honours.
What does she do?
Symonds is a big campaigner for ocean and marine welfare. She campaigned alongside Boris’ father, Stanley Johnson.
She left Westminster in 2018 when her affair with the Johnson came to light and became the PR for the Vibrant Oceans programme of Bloomberg.
As a conservationist, she is passionate about fighting plastic pollution. She is also patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, which seeks to help advance farm animal welfare.
During her time with the Conservative Party, Carrie worked to promote the party’s policies including the ivory ban, CCTV in slaughterhouses, increasing sentences for animal cruelty, banning of micro beads and animal sentience.
Carrie left Westminster in 2018 when her affair with Johnson came to light. She moved to Bloomberg to do the PR for their Vibrant Oceans programme.
They are thought to have spent Valentine’s Day in 2018 together. Hello! reported they have been dating for around 18 months.
Their affair came to light after Boris announced his separation from his wife of 25 years, Marina Wheeler, the mother of his four children, in September 2018. Marina cited infidelity as the reason for their marriage breakdown.
The couple released a joint statement that read: “Several months ago, after 25 years of marriage, we decided it was in our best interests to separate. We have subsequently agreed to divorce and that process is under way. As friends, we will continue to support our four children in the years ahead. We will not be commenting further.”
Boris and his ex-wife Marina had their up and downs. In 2004, the politician confessed to having a four-year affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt.
In 2010, it was revealed that he had fathered a daughter Stephanie with Helen MacIntyre, an arts consultant.
At age 31, Symonds is 24 years younger than Johnson.
She’s not one to remain in the background, unlike the era when the prime minister’s consort could choose to be out of the limelight.
A conservationist, Symonds seems to have taken to her role already. Until January, Symonds was nicknamed “Flotus” by her friends — shorthand for First Lady Of The United States, it was a reference to her role as prime ministerial wife-in-waiting.
While no one doubts Johnson’s self-belief to cope with the pressures of Downing Street, but what of his girlfriend?
The British press is already at their level best scrutinising Symonds — from her conservation work to her fashion sense.
The self-declared British fashion police are merciless in their condemnation of any outfit with shoes that don’t match the dress — or earrings which clash with the handbag.
But Symonds is known for her ability to cope with the stresses of the limelight. The British media describes the blonde as having “laser-like focus” on furthering her career.
On LinkedIn, Symonds lists her extra-curricular activities: “Lacrosse, running, acting, debating, events planning, art history, creative and critical writing, fundraising, arts marketing, British politics, international development.”
At the end of her first year, she spent two months as an intern at the blue-chip PR agency Fishburn Hedges. At the end of her second year, she reportedly crammed in internships at three different agencies.
In the search for an explanation of what fuelled this extraordinary drive, it is worth examining her unusual background.
Fust four months after she was born in 1988, her father’s wife gave birth to her half-sister Isobel. Carrie was brought up by her mother in a three-bedroom house in the prosperous southwest London suburb of East Sheen.
In 2007, Carried went through a traumatic event. When she became one of the youngest victims of the “black cab” sex attacker John Worboys. She lost consciousness in the back of his taxi after accepting a spiked drink.
She steeled herself to give evidence against him in court. When the Parole Board agreed to release him early, she waived her anonymity in order to publicise her ordeal and successfully campaign for him to remain behind bars.
‘Gregarious, intelligent, ambitious, strong-minded and attractive’
By the time she graduated from Warwick in 2009, she had clocked in so much work experience that she was snapped up by a top financial PR agency as a trainee executive.
After less than a year in her first job, she left to work for the Richmond Park Conservative Association as campaign and marketing director for the local MP Zac Goldsmith.
She is described as “gregarious, intelligent, ambitious, strong-minded and attractive”. Back in December 2011 Symonds, then 24, had her first encounter with her future partner.
That Christmas was when she joined the BackBoris2012 campaign as a press officer.
At the time Johnson was gearing up for re-election as Mayor of London and Symonds was part of the team that helped him beat Ken Livingstone for the second time in a row.
She was a special adviser to John Whittingdale, the culture secretary. Then also to Sajid Javid, in his days as communities minister.
Before long, at age 29, she took on the role of director of communications of the Conservative Party in June 2017.
At about this time, PR Week anointed her the second-most powerful PR person in the UK.
In March 2018, she hosted her 30th birthday bash at which the guests included current leadership contenders Javid and Michael Gove as well as Johnson himself.
By now, the rumour mill was in full swing. By last summer, Symonds had left her post as the Tory communications chief amid claims of rows with Theresa May’s office over her links to the Johnson camp.
Meanwhile, Boris’s wife Marina had finally had enough. On September 7, 2018, the couple announced that they were getting divorced.
Carrie is credited for working her magic on a man once seen as scruffy and overweight with unruly blond hair. Johnson has slimmed down, wears smart suits and sports a shorter, more conventional hairstyle.