How Boris Johnson’s wife put up with years of betrayal before calling in the lawyers
Woman of steel who finally buckled: How Boris Johnson’s wife who is renowned for her ‘fierce inquiring mind’ put up with years of betrayal before calling in the lawyers
- Boris Johnson and wife Marina were married 25 years before they called it quits
- Ms Wheeler called in lawyers after claims her husband is having an affair, or two
- Close friend now revealed Ms Wheeler ‘is a women who should not be crossed’
Boris Johnson and wife Marina Wheeler (pictured) were married 25 years before they called it quits
As a couple, Boris Johnson and his wife, Marina, were a study in opposites. He affects an unkempt, even shambolic persona. She, by contrast, is usually meticulously elegant and well turned out.
He is ebullient and garrulous, while she is quiet and thoughtful. And while Boris is a master of the punchy catchphrase and the ready quip, it is Marina Wheeler QC who is renowned for her fierce, inquiring mind, who assimilates the finer detail.
But it was not their fundamentally different personalities that caused the problems within their marriage.
After all, for it to have lasted as long as it did — the union lasted 25 years and produced four children — the pair clearly complemented one another.
The problem, as we know only too well, was Boris and his women. And, we can reveal, that fiercely clever Marina finally became fed up that he was rarely alongside her physically, mentally or emotionally.
And, during the marriage, not only did Marina have to contend with her husband’s affairs with other women, a veritable posse of them, but she had to bear the worst betrayal of all — seeing her husband father another child outside wedlock with one of his mistresses.
Yes, she kicked him out a couple of times, but — until now — she has always taken him back.
Now, following claims that Johnson has been having another affair, possibly two, she has finally called in the lawyers.
Last night, a close friend of the couple said she was a woman who should not be crossed: ‘Do not underestimate Marina’s demeanour of quietness. There is an iron core of steel inside her and that can frighten Boris.
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‘She was prepared to tolerate if he strayed in the beginning of the marriage as she had never had in her life so turbo-charged or so large a character. But that tolerance ran out. His repeat crime of straying frayed it totally at the end. Here is a tiger who can send emails that can freeze your blood. Boris respects that.
‘His eternally not being there — in every way — is what made her will to stay married lose its commitment.’
Still, there were many who thought Marina would never head down the path of divorce.
‘I wouldn’t say all was well with the marriage,’ said one source close to them both. ‘But my understanding was that Boris and Marina had come to an understanding that they would stick it out. I thought they’d be together till they died.
‘It’s true that they don’t really go out together much, but then Marina has always liked to be at home with the kids rather than go out.’
And, when all is said and done, marriages are complicated things, layered with nuances not easily detected by the casual outsider.
Certainly, in the case of the Johnson marriage, the stereotypical image of the downtrodden, stay-at-home wife, putting up with anything to keep hold of her famous, charismatic husband could not be further from the reality.
Ms Wheeler finally called in the lawyers following claims that Johnson has been having another affair, possibly two
A star player in the legal profession, Marina Wheeler, who at 54 is the same age as her husband, enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a barrister before being made a QC in 2016.
An insight into Marina’s mindset may be found in her background. Her mother is Dip Singh, an Indian-born Sikh. Marina was raised in the Sikh religion and her faith remains at the heart of who she is.
Sikhs place a special emphasis on the importance of family. As well as finally tiring of her husband’s persistent disloyalty, Marina may have decided that the most important thing of all was to keep the family together.
So she may, in part, have stuck with Boris for the most obvious and honourable reason of all — for the sake of the children: Lara, 25, Milo, 23, Cassia, 21 and Theodore, 19.
But now that Theodore, the youngest, is grown up, she may have thought she no longer had a duty to tolerate Boris’s behaviour.
And if she were to feel a twinge of malicious pleasure in the public confirmation that Boris is an unreliable husband — and, ergo, possibly not entirely suited to the greatest office of Prime Minister — who could really blame her?
Still, despite everything he’s put her through, making that final brutal cut and filing divorce papers must have been extraordinarily painful for Marina.
Theirs, after all, is a history that goes right back to childhood.
In the early Seventies, Boris’s father, Stanley, was working in Brussels in an environmental division of the European Commission.
Marina’s father, Charles Wheeler, the distinguished BBC foreign correspondent who was knighted in 2006 and died in 2008, was also based in Brussels at the time, and was friends with Stanley.
Marina and Boris both attended the European School in Brussels and their families holidayed together. Boris had a crush on her even then.
Last night, a close friend of the couple said Ms Wheeler was a woman who should not be crossed
At the age of 11, Marina and Boris were parted when Marina returned to England and was sent to Bedales School in Hampshire.
She went on to study law at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and, after taking a Master’s degree in EC law at Brussels University where she practised for a while, she was called to the Bar in 1987.
It was in the year that Marina became a barrister that Boris married Allegra Mostyn-Owen, daughter of the art historian William Mostyn-Owen and the Italian writer, Gaia Servadio, whom he met at Oxford University while he was studying Classics.
Allegra was artistic and beautiful — a Tatler cover girl — and Boris was besotted.
Allegra and Boris moved to the Belgian capital when he was appointed Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, but Allegra did not feel at home with the competitive environment that Boris revelled in and returned to London.
It so happened that Marina was working in Brussels, too, at this time. The paths of the old school friends crossed again. While Marina apparently hadn’t given much thought to Boris over the years, she is said to have fallen ‘hopelessly in love’ with him then.
They married in May 1993, 12 days after his divorce from Allegra was finalised, with Marina already pregnant with their first child, Lara.
Three further children followed in quick succession. The family home was a four-storey, five-bedroom home in Highbury, North London.
Friends say that Marina was more to the Left than Boris politically, but that he would often consult her on political matters.
‘I ran this past Marina,’ he would say, or, ‘Marina thinks . . .’.
Marina and Boris (pictured) both attended the European School in Brussels and their families holidayed together.
There was a deep friendship, a partnership, as well as a marriage. But Boris had a fatal wandering eye. And the uncomfortable truth — mystifying to some as it may seem — is that women find Boris very attractive.
In 2004, the News Of The World ran the story that he had had a four-year affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt while he was editor of The Spectator and she was one of his columnists. Ms Wyatt’s mother told the newspaper that the affair resulted in her daughter becoming pregnant and having a termination.
Johnson famously dismissed the report as ‘an inverted pyramid of piffle.’
Marina promptly threw him out, changed the locks and took off her wedding ring. But at some point he was allowed back into the marital home.
A couple of years later, a fresh story appeared in the papers claiming that Johnson had also had an affair with a second journalist, Anna Fazackerley, which apparently had run concurrently with the earlier affair with Ms Wyatt.
On one occasion in 2005, it was said, Boris, then a junior shadow education minister, had changed his travel plans and stopped off in Paris on the way back from China to meet up with Ms Fazackerley.
The election of Johnson as Mayor of London in 2008 seemed to mark a new beginning for the marriage.
But the most painful revelation was yet to come, when in 2010, it emerged that Johnson had fathered a baby girl by the name of Stephanie — the result of a fling with art consultant Helen Macintyre.
Stephanie’s wild flaxen hair and blue eyes made it pretty impossible for Boris to think about dismissing this claim as another inverted pyramid of piffle.
Boris was thrown out a second time — but again allowed back after a period of penance.
It has been said often over the past few years that Marina and Boris had come to an understanding about their marriage. That it would continue, but they would not delude themselves into thinking it would be the same as it was at the start.
Marina, who is based at One Crown Office Row chambers, focused on her family and her career.
Her defence in public against the humiliation of Boris’s proclivities was to put on a show of serene indifference.
The pair were parted at the age of 11 when Marina returned to England and was sent to Bedales School in Hampshire
Whatever else he may have been doing, Boris continued to consult his wife on political matters and she is said to have influenced his decision to reposition himself in favour of Brexit.
Whether the ‘understanding’ between Marina and Boris meant she had agreed to turn a blind eye to future indiscretions is not clear.
The pair were photographed together in the summer looking happy enough.
The catastrophic rupture appears to have happened a month or so ago. The pair are now living apart and are not in contact with one another.
Their daughter, Lara, a fashion journalist, is reported to have told a friend: ‘He’s a selfish b******. Mum is finished with him. She will never take him back now.’
Marina may have said that before, but this time it’s different — a divorce is under way.
Given the nature of these things, it seems unlikely that the identity of her husband’s latest mistress will stay out of the public domain for very long.
Marina Wheeler QC will, no doubt, rise above it. As she always has done.
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