Carrie Symonds’ gushing announcement tonight that she is engaged to Boris Johnson and ‘hatching’ a baby caps a remarkable rise for the former Tory staffer – from PM’s mistress to fully fledged First lady.
Ms Symonds, 31, worked for the Tory party from 2009, before hitting the headlines when her affair with Mr Johnson came to light.
That revelation, from September 2018, came during Mr Johnson’s second marriage to Marina Wheeler, the mother of four of his children, causing it to break down.
During Ms Symonds and Mr Johnson’s turbulent relationship, she has been credited with transforming his public image, with the PM swapping his previously unruly, slap-dash outfits to a noticeably more polished look, with neatly cropped hair and a significantly slimmer waistline.
Ms Symonds’ image has also noticeably changed, her outfits and Instagram posts becoming more conservative as her relationship with Mr Johnson grew more serious.
But it’s not all been plain sailing, with the couple having a well-publicised plate-smashing row recorded by neighbours who claimed she yelled ‘get off me’ and ‘get out of my flat’ while he stayed at her flat in Camberwell, south London last year.
Ms Symonds has been dubbed the ‘Duchess of Downing Street’, a reference to the similarity of her fashion to Kate Middleton, as well as a nod to her growing power behind the scenes at Number 10.
With the engagement and the news of a baby on the way, Ms Symonds could now have an even greater impact on policy than he she has already had.
A passionate conservationist, she had a direct impact on government policy after a badger cull in Derbyshire was called off, a move that saved thousands of the animals.
Badgers are culled across Europe over fears they are spreading bovine tuberculosis among cattle – but a licence for a cull across Derbyshire was refused after a ‘direct intervention from the Prime Minister’, according to the chief executive of the Badger Trust. It came after the government already granted licenses for thousands of badgers to be culled all over the country.
Ms Symonds has also hired a former ITN communications chief Sarah Vaughan-Brown, 45, as her personal adviser. Insiders say Ms Vaughan-Brown, who also handled PR for the Trinity Mirror newspaper group in the past, will be helping Ms Symonds with her growing charity interests.
Ms Symonds has been credited with transforming his public image, with the PM swapping his previously unruly, slap-dash outfits to a noticeably more polished look, with neatly cropped hair and a significantly slimmer waistline
Her own image has also noticeably changed, her outfits and Instagram posts becoming more conservative as her relationship with Mr Johnson grew more serious
Carrie Symonds on a night out – her image has considerably changed since she started publicly dating Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds stood outside Number 10 as her partner gave his first speech in Downing Street after the election victory
Her association with Mr Johnson dates back to 2012, when Ms Symonds worked on the now-PM’s successful second London mayoral campaign.
Ms Symonds has ties to several other Tory figures, campaigning for Zac Goldsmith during the General Election and she is also thought to be a friend of ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid.
She joined the Tory party media machine in 2009, first as a press adviser, then head of broadcast at Conservative campaign headquarters ahead of the 2015 general election, before becoming communications chief in 2017.
However, she was forced to quit just months after being accused of abusing her expenses to the tune of thousands of pounds.
Ms Symonds was asked to leave her £80,000-a-year after party chiefs said her performance was poor, having previously challenged her over taxi expenses.
Ms Symonds was the product of an affair between her father, Matthew, a founder of the Independent, and of newspaper lawyer Josephine McAfee while they were both were married to other people.
Her mother raised her in a three-bed townhouse in East Sheen, South West London, while her father provided financial assistance, though he is not thought to have played a big role in his life.
Carrie Symonds in a play when she was a student at Warwick University. Last year, pictures emerged of a scantily-clad Ms Symonds appearing in an occult-inspired play during her studies
A smiling Ms Symonds enjoying a holiday in 2015. Her degree led her to consider a career as an actress, appearing in amateur shows and even trying for a part in Atonement, the 2007 film starring Keira Knightley
Ms Symonds, pictured before her relationship with Boris Johnson came to light, could now have an even greater impact on policy than he she has already had
Ms Symonds was educated at the £20,000-a-year Godolphin and Latymer School in Hammersmith, west London, which counts Nigella Lawson as a former pupil.
She then went on to study theatre studies and history of art, graduating with a first from Warwick University.
Last year, pictures emerged of a scantily-clad Ms Symonds appearing in an occult-inspired play at university.
Her degree led her to consider a career as an actress, appearing in amateur shows and even trying for a part in Atonement, the 2007 film starring Keira Knightley.
After that proved unsuccessful, she turned her attention to politics, joining the Conservatives as a press officer.
This led to her working with Mr Goldsmith and on her future husband Mr Johnson’s campaigns.
She also became a special adviser to John Whittingdale at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport before working for Sajid Javid.
In June 2017, at the age of 29, that she was made the Tory communications chief, before leaving her post, with her subsequent relationship with Mr Johnson elevating her publicly profile even higher.
She has largely kept out of the public eye since Mr Johnson became prime minister in July – standing out of sight during the Tory campaign launch and not accompanying him on his tour of the UK.
Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds are engaged and expecting a baby in early summer, a spokesman for the government has announced. She also shared the news on her Instagram page
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds holding hands in the Sussex countryside shortly after reports they had a blazing row at her flat
However, she entered Downing St with the PM shortly after his resounding election victory. The couple chose the larger four-bedroom flat at No 11 Downing Street instead of the smaller two-bedroom official residence at No 10.
She is the first unmarried partner of a sitting PM to live in Downing Street.
The couple had been living together at Ms Symonds’s flat in Camberwell, south London, until the well-publicised row recorded by neighbours in June 2019.
They now live in a flat above Number 11 Downing Street and adopted a Jack Russell-cross puppy called Dilyn.
In December, Mr Johnson’s sister Rachel Johnson said she has yet to meet Ms Symonds.
But their father Stanley, who appeared alongside Ms Johnson on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, said he has met Ms Symonds, adding: ‘The Johnsons are united in this.’
A proud Ms Symonds looks on with pet dog Dilyn shortly after Boris Johnson’s resounding general election victory in December
Ms Symonds and Mr Johnson kiss after a speech, in a rare display of emotion for the usually low-key couple
Mr Johnson is kissed by his partner Ms Symonds after delivering his speech during the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre last year
Back in January last year, Ms Symonds was joined by Stanley Johnson at an event in London opposing Japan’s plans to resume commercial whaling.
The pair were spotted smiling and chatting together after they both addressed the crowd.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s turbulent marriage to Ms Wheeler, during which they had four children, ended after 25 years together in September 2018.
In 2004 he was sacked from the Tory front-bench over a reported affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt and the Appeal Court ruled in 2013 that the public had a right to know he had fathered a daughter during an adulterous liaison while mayor of London in 2009.
Claims that Mr Johnson squeezed the thigh of journalist Charlotte Edwardes, at a private lunch at The Spectator magazine’s HQ shortly after he became editor in 1999, overshadowed his first Conservative Party conference as PM.
But in a public display of affection, Mr Johnson kissed Ms Symonds after his speech to party members at the event.
Mr Johnson greeted Cabinet ministers before embracing his girlfriend, kissing her on the cheek and then walking out of the hall holding her hand.
Meanwhile, allegations about Mr Johnson’s relationship with American entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri, and whether she enjoyed preferential treatment while he was London mayor, also dominated the headlines in September.
Mr Johnson has insisted Ms Edwardes’s allegations are not true and has denied any impropriety in relation to the claims about Ms Arcuri.