Caroline Louise Bevan Symonds
17 March 1988
|Education||Godolphin and Latymer School|
|Alma mater||University of Warwick (BA)|
11 Downing Street, London
Caroline Louise Bevan Johnson (née Symonds; born 17 March 1988) is the wife of British prime minister Boris Johnson. Before becoming spouse of the prime minister, she was known as a political and animal welfare activist, and a conservationist. She is a former Conservative Party media official and currently works as a senior advisor to the ocean conservation charity Oceana.
Early life and education
Caroline Louise Bevan Symonds was born on 17 March 1988 to Matthew Symonds, co-founder of The Independent, and Josephine Mcaffee (née Lawrence), a lawyer working for that newspaper. Her paternal grandfather was John Beavan, Baron Ardwick (at one time editor of the Daily Herald and later, during the 1970s, a Labour Party MEP), and her paternal grandmother was Anne Symonds, a BBC World Service journalist.
Symonds was brought up by her mother in East Sheen, London, and between 1999 and 2006 attended Godolphin and Latymer School, an independent day school for girls. She went on to the University of Warwick, where she graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts in Art History and Theatre Studies in 2009.
Career and political activism
In 2009, Symonds joined the Conservative Party as a press officer. She worked at Conservative Campaign Headquarters, and later campaigned for Boris Johnson in the 2010 London Conservative Party mayoral selection. She has also worked as a media special adviser for Conservative Cabinet Ministers Sajid Javid (Communities, Local Government and Housing Secretary) and John Whittingdale (Culture, Media and Sport Secretary).
Symonds became the Conservative Party's head of communications in 2018, but left the position later that year, taking up a job in public relations for the Oceana project. It was reported that she was asked to leave her post as director of communications after sources[who?] said party chiefs had said her performance was poor, and questions were raised[by whom?] over significant unjustified expenses claims. These accusations were, however, rejected by other sources[who?] as being a smear campaign based around rumours allegedly spread by Symonds's political strategist, Lynton Crosby.
She is a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation.
John Worboys case
In 2007, aged 19, Symonds was driven home from a King's Road nightclub by taxi-driver John Worboys, who in 2009 was convicted of multiple sexual assaults on his passengers. She later recalled Worboys offering her champagne and vodka, which she believed was spiked and, after returning home, "vomiting and laughing hysterically before passing out until 3pm the next day".
Symonds was one of fourteen women who testified against Worboys at his trial. She subsequently told The Telegraph that he was "a sad, wicked man who is a danger to society. I feel so angry that he pleaded not guilty and made us go through the pain of giving evidence in court".
Symonds was the youngest of Worboys' victims, and waived her anonymity to talk about her experiences and, later, to campaign against his early release, fundraising for a successful judicial review of the decision.
Public and personal life
She began an affair with British politician Boris Johnson, then the foreign secretary, in 2018 while he was still married to his second wife, Marina Wheeler. In July 2019, Boris became prime minister and both he and Carrie officially moved into the flat above 11 Downing Street. She was the first unmarried partner of a prime minister to reside at Downing Street. The following month, she was barred from entering the United States as her visa application was rejected due to a previous visit with her close friend Nimco Ali to Somaliland, which the US considers to be part of immigration-restricted Somalia. On 16 August 2019, she made her first public appearance since entering 10 Downing Street, when she addressed what she called the "gigantic" climate crisis.
Concerns over her influence on the prime minister were raised in January 2020, when it came to light that she had received briefs from animal rights activists just before the government pulled a planned cull of badgers in Derbyshire. An association representing farmers, the NFU, asserted that this meeting and her influence played a key role in the government ignoring scientific advice in favour of retaining the cull. According to The Guardian, a judicial review has been granted permission to examine how the decision was reached. She was also influential in making sure that Lee Cain did not get a job as the prime minister's chief of staff, and has urged Boris Johnson to fire environment secretary George Eustice from his role. She was also involved in a political controversy over the refurbishment of the 11 Downing Street flat, and her comments over the flat's decor being a "John Lewis furniture nightmare" (John Lewis typically being an aspirational, upper-middle-class shop) led to accusations of snobbery.
During Dominic Cummings's tenure as chief adviser, Cummings and Carrie Symonds were said to represent two separate factions influencing the prime minister. Cummings also said that the prime minister "cancel[led] an inquiry about a leak ... because it might implicate his girlfriend's friends"; Cummings accused Henry Newman, the senior adviser in Downing Street and ally of Carrie Symonds, of being a "chatty rat" who leaked the plans for a second lockdown in October. Cummings later said in 2021 that Symonds acted "illegally" in awarding influential jobs to her friends, including press secretary Allegra Stratton.
Conservative MP Caroline Nokes said that Carrie Johnson's influence has been exaggerated for sexist purposes; she has been likened to both Lady Macbeth and Marie Antoinette by her critics. Writing in the Sunday Times Marie Le Conte disagreed that such criticism is sexist.
Engagement and marriage
On 29 February 2020, Symonds and Boris Johnson announced that they had become engaged in late 2019. Their son, Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson, was born on 29 April 2020 in London. She used to be a practising Catholic and had her son baptised into the Catholic Church.
Symonds married Boris Johnson on 29 May 2021 in a secret ceremony at Westminster Cathedral attended by thirty guests. She wore a boho-chic style bridal gown by Greek designer Christos Costarellos. In July 2021, she announced that they were expecting their second child together, also revealing that she had suffered a miscarriage earlier that year. Their daughter, Romy Iris Charlotte Johnson, was born on 9 December 2021 in London.
- GRO Register of Births = MAR 1988 15 449 WANDSWORTH - Caroline Louise B. Symonds, mother's maiden name = Lawrence
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