“It’s a personal matter.”
That was Downing Street’s response to reports that Boris Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds are to “celebrate their wedding” next summer.
Earlier, a spokesman for the couple, who became engaged during a holiday on the millionaires’ playground island of Mustique in late 2019, said it was a “private family event”.
And yet it’s reported that the couple are waiting until next year to tie the knot because – according to The Sun – they plan to celebrate their wedding with a “lavish bash”.
But talk of a “lavish bash” will surely ring alarm bells among the prime minister’s friends and allies, since it will inevitably raise questions about who will pay for the celebrations.
Mr Johnson is already being pursued by parliamentary authorities and sleaze watchdogs over who paid for the Mustique holiday and £840-a-roll luxury wallpaper for their Downing Street flat.
The PM has denied reports that they were paid for by Conservative Party donors, but he is in dispute with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Electoral Commission over the allegations.
For his wedding, it is reported that family and friends of the couple have been sent “save the date” cards telling them to keep Saturday 30 July 2022 free for the celebrations.
It is thought the couple are waiting until next summer so they are not limited by COVID restrictions on weddings. At present there is a limit of 30 guests, but the PM hopes to lift that lockdown limit on 21 June.
Mr Johnson may want more than 30 guests because he has such a large family. He is one of four children and now has six children of his own since Ms Symonds gave birth to their son Wilfred last year.
Asked at the daily No 10 briefing for political journalists why the prime minister was waiting until July next year, his official spokesman said: “It’s a personal matter.”
Then, asked if the PM thinks it will take another year until big weddings can go ahead, the spokesman replied with the same answer.
Asked when there would be more clarity from the government on weddings, the spokesman said: “It’s one of the things we’re working on.”
For the PM’s wedding, one possible venue for a big reception is his official country retreat of Chequers, set in hundreds of rolling acres in the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire. But that could be expensive.
The prime minister is already reported to have been sent a £1,000 repair bill by the Chequers trustees after the couple’s terrier Dilyn chewed antique furniture and a book and made a mess on the floor.
Another option for the reception could be 10 Downing Street, which has large rooms which are used for entertaining and a large garden that stretches across Nos 10, 11 and 12.
But the controversy over who initially paid for the expensive makeover of the Downing Street flat may have deterred Mr Johnson from more scrutiny about No 10 funding.
For Mr Johnson, the wedding will be his third and for Ms Symonds, her first. He married Allegra Mostyn-Owen in 1987, but they divorced in 1993, the year he married barrister Marina Wheeler.
They had four children, but separated in 2018 and divorced in 2020, shortly before it was revealed that the prime minister had become engaged to Ms Symonds.
Mr Johnson has always been coy about his private life, but Ms Symonds revealed their engagement, as well as her pregnancy, in a post on Instagram last year.
“I wouldn’t normally post this kind of thing on here but I wanted my friends to find out from me,” 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.”
Mr Johnson will not be the first prime minister to marry in office. Lord Liverpool married Mary Chester in 1822. But Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds are the first unmarried couple to live at No 10.
As well as who is on the wedding guest list, speculation has also turned to who will be Mr Johnson’s best man. Tory insiders have ruled out former PM David Cameron, with whom he has fallen out, and Michael Gove, regarded by Mr Johnson’s allies as a dangerous rival who covets his job.
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