Fashion and parenting… but where's Boris? Inside Carrie Johnson's … – Evening Standard

The mother-of-three has racked up 81,000 followers since making her account public — and no wonder. From life before Boris to partying at Wilderness, Katie Strick goes on a trawl through the @carrielbjohnson archives
High-spec pregnancy shoots against a backdrop of wildflowers. Wholesome scenes of curly-haired children frolicking on the beach. Frazzled parenting captions and shop-the-look style fashion brand shout-outs.
Take an initial glance at Carrie Johnson’s newly-public Instagram grid and you could easily be mistaken for that of an aspirational British mumfluencer a la the likes of Isabel Spearman (@isabelspearman) or Alice Naylor-Leyland (@mrsalice), not the woman famous for being married to the former prime minister of the United Kingdom.
But perhaps this was exactly the intention of the 35-year-old mother-of-three, as she chose to unveil the social media account she had long been keeping privately to the eyes of the outside world. Could sponsored posts and influencer-style brand partnerships be her next move as she continues her next chapter away from Downing Street?
Recent months would certainly suggest so. In the days since switching the account from private to public, Carrie — who gave birth to her third child, Frank, last month — has racked up 81,000 followers and counting, with an obvious uptick in posts, mostly showing life behind-the-scenes as a mother-of-three away from the spotlight of Westminster.
Farm visits, blackberry and strawberry-picking and trips to Dorset with the kids have all featured, as have several nods to her her old life away from the family, from hen-dos to girls nights at Mayfair members’ club 5 Hertford Street. Is Boris’ omission from most of these an accidental one, or a deliberate attempt to shed that ‘first lady’ status of old and forge a new chapter as an influencer on all things parenting, travel and fashion?
Carrie Johnson with third child Frank
From life before Boris to their marriage behind-closed-doors, this is the inside story of @carrielbjohnson.
If you’d been wondering what Carrie Johnson had been up to in this post-Downing Street era, her grid certainly paints a wholesome picture despite regular references to a lack of sleep as a new mum.
The couple’s trio of cherubic, blonde-haired children feature front and centre (though only the backs of their heads, obviously, as any true mumfluencer would know), whether it’s reels from their first month as a family of five or footage from a balmy June wandering and picnicing around the UK.
In July, she announced the arrival of their youngest child, Frank Alfred Odysseus Johnson, on her grid, teasing: “can you guess which name my husband chose?!” in a nod to Odysseus, a Greek hero who was the great grandson of the god Hermes and was seen as courageous, athletic, and famously a womaniser before marrying his wife Penelope.
“Am loving every minute of the sleepy baby bubble. Seeing my older two embrace their new brother with such joy and excitement has been the most wonderful thing to see. We are all very smitten,” she continued. “Now, can anyone recommend any good series/box sets to binge while breastfeeding?”
Posts since then have featured the couple’s other two children, Romy, aged one, and Wilfred, aged three, with the latest showing a toddler presumed to be Wilfred attempting to wipe out a drawing on the wall.
“Turned my back for one minute and our little Picasso decided to strike,” Carrie jokes in the caption, with the post attracting hundreds of comments from other frazzled parents sharing similar tales of toddler mayhem. Will sponsored parenting posts be next?
Parenting might not be Carrie’s only way into the influencer world. Fashion, too, has long been a passion of the 35-year-old’s and recent Instagram activity suggests she is keen to make this an increasing focus.
“Packing for a holiday and can’t decide between these two beautiful @st.clair_london dresses. They’re both made with the softest cotton and feel SO good on. Which do you prefer?” she asked her followers in a recent Instagram story, while fans were quick to comment on a strawberry cardigan she wore in a recent post from a summer getaway.
Carrie didn’t tag the brand, but replied to comments individually, telling followers it was from Beulah. Could shop-the-look brand partnerships be next in Johnson’s journey towards sharing her life online?
If she did choose to go down that path, she certainly wouldn’t be the first. Ex-PM’s wife Samantha Cameron launched her brand Cefinn after her chapter at Number 10, and her former adviser Isabel Spearman now runs a popular fashion account @dailydressedit on Instagram.
“Carrie could demand anywhere from £2,500 to £5,000 for one outfit post on her Instagram feed,” a consultant who specialises in brand communications told The Times this week. “If she has an agent and if a brand wants to put paid spend behind the post to drive reach and sales she could demand double.”
Drone paddleboarding shots in a chic red swimming costume. Throwbacks to hiking trips in Slovenia. Interiors inspo from a luxury trip to the Dominican Republic.
Fashion and parenting aren’t the only themes on Carrie’s grid, but travel, too. The mother-of-three has long been an advocate for the environment – she was working in public relations for the conservation NGO Oceana when she and Boris began their relationship – but the pair have a long history of luxury vacations, from their wellness honeymoon in Slovenia to a Marbella mansion complete with helipad.
It’s not all exotic holidays though. The couple famously opted for a remote Scottish staycation in 2020 and clearly developed a taste for walking and swimming holidays around the British Isles. A blustery trip to Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset features in one of Carrie’s reels from June and Kent’s Port Lympne safari park has featured as a regular birthday spot over the years — a nod to Carrie’s keen interest in wildlife.
Indeed, animals feature highly on her grid – particularly Dilyn the dog, who she and Boris adopted from a rescue centre in 2019. Bandanas, bow ties and Tory rosettes are among the accessories her beloved “Dil” has been pictured wearing on her grid over the years.
A flick between Carrie’s tagged posts and those she has chosen to share to her grid quickly reveals an obvious omission from her selected snaps: her husband.
Indeed, Boris Johnson does not appear in his wife’s profile picture (her hugging one of their children) and has not appeared in a single post on his wife’s Instagram grid since September 2022, when he left Downing Street; the first picture of him coming in on post number 39, with a casual “that’s all folks” alongside a picture of the couple leaving Number 10. Should followers take this as a sign that Carrie sees this as her time in the spotlight after years in her husband’s shadow?
Carrie’s profile was private when her husband was PM but her decision to go public offers a late behind-the-scenes look at their time in Westminster. Photos with her husband and world leaders at high-profile events from the G7 to the Tory party conference were naturally a regular feature of her Instagram back then, but always with a nod to the human side of whatever she was doing, whether that was the challenges of bringing children up in Downing Street or having the Covid jab during pregnancy while her husband was in charge of the country.
“It’s been a really great few days in Rome for G20 but couldn’t be happier to be back with this little Halloween tiger,” she captioned a series of pictures in October 2021, the last one showing her hugging one of their children on her return.
The same theme can be seen in many of Carrie’s posts from that time, including the family’s exit from Downing Street. “I expect Wilf and Romy won’t remember it but they’ve had an incredibly happy start to their lives growing up here,” Johnson captioned a photo of the family walking through that famous Number 10 door.
“Thank you so much to all the lovely people at Downing Street and at Chequers who have been so incredibly kind to us – particularity to our children. Best of luck to Liz and her family.” Family, quite clearly, has always been first.
It’s traditional for a prime minister’s spouse to start a clean social media slate when he or she takes to the position, but not Carrie. The newly-unveiled @carrielbjohnson account doesn’t just give an insight to Carrie’s life in Downing Street, but life before. Long before. All the way back to August 2013, in fact, when the now-mother-of-three – then a Warwick University graduate living in London — shared her first post: fittingly, of a dog.
Since then, she has posted prolifically, the grid a treasure trove of insight into the life of the woman who went onto steal the heart of one of Britain’s most famous prime ministers. Some common themes: dogs, festivals, baths, windswept British beaches, bikini photos from exotic holidays and nights out with friends — often other young Tories.
FGM campaigner Nimco Ali and senior Tory aide Ben Mallett (one of those featured in that now-infamous partygate photo at the Tory party HQ) are among friends to feature regularly on the grid, and several ex-boyfriends pop up over the years, most notably the journalist Harry Cole, now political editor of The Sun, who Carrie dated for a couple of years.
Other key political figures pop up at snaps from Tory events, too, as Carrie’s status within the party was building (by 2018, she was working as the Tories’ head of communications): Samantha Cameron is shown in a group snap on Carrie’s grid in 2014 — a hint at her future ambitions as a political wife? — as is Boris Johnson himself in a shot from 2015. Did the initial sparks for their relationship start as early as then?
A scroll through the years between 2015 and 2019, when Boris and Carrie’s relationship was first confirmed, reveals several other Instagram themes of note: a love of ABBA and interiors (see: wallpaper-gate); an increasing passion for conservation; and that 2016 pre-Baftas selfie that quickly became the go-to shot doing the rounds when Boris’ new girlfriend was first reported many years later.
The couple officially confirmed their relationship in 2019, when Boris was rumoured to be living with Carrie — then Carrie Symonds — at her home in Camberwell (his then-wife Marina Wheeler was reported to have kicked him out of the family home in September 2018, following claims he was seeing another woman). They were pictured holding hands in the countryside in June that year and had reportedly purchased a £1.3m house in Camberwell together by the July.
Johnson’s Instagram activity around that time was regular, as always, but showed no signs of the fledgling romance we now know to have been going on behind the scenes. Bridesmaid and festival shots, happy snaps from Wimbledon, Pride events and Soho House, and girls trips with BFF Ali paint a picture of an ordinary then twenty-something living in London and visiting New York for work, with nods to her work for the Conservative party and later for ocean conservation charity Oceana.
“Thank you for all the birthday messages. I felt very loved indeed,” reads a birthday post from a holiday Italy in March 2019. Was this the first hint at a new relationship building behind-the-scenes?
Then-PM Boris Johnson first appears on the grid many months later, in October 2019. “This afternoon we met the wonderful family who rescued and looked after Dilyn when he was a tiny puppy, before he came to live with us,” she writes alongside a picture of them outside Downing Street, referring to them as “we” as opposed to referring Boris by name.
“It’s fair to say Dilyn was very happy to see them! Thank you so much Debbie, Kaci, Tia and Keegan for giving Dilyn such a great first home and for all the amazing work you do looking after rescue puppies. And thank you again to Friends of Animals Wales.”
Boris gradually makes more regular appearances over the next few months: next, cuddling Dilyn in front of the rugby; then watching the Twitter reaction to a political debate as she clutches his arm. The first professional picture of them solely a couple makes it onto Carrie’s Instagram in December 2019, by which point Boris was prime minister and Carrie was living with him in Number 10 — the account was still private at this point, so presumably those she trusted to follow her had known all about the relationship for a while.
She and Boris announced their engagement and Carrie’s pregnancy at the same time, in February 2020, with Carrie posting a selfie of her new fiancée kissing her on the cheek. “I wouldn’t normally post this kind of thing on here but I wanted my friends to find out from me…,” she writes. “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.”
Her life might have been relatively private until that point, but almost overnight it quickly became one of Downing Street photocalls, handshakes with the Bidens and meetings with the Queen. What the next chapter holds is uncertain, but it’ll certainly be public, if @carrielbjohnson is a sign of things to come.
“Looks fun,” a follower wrote under a recent post of Carrie dancing with Frank strapped to her chest. “Strictly soon?”. Carrie didn’t reply to that particular comment, but she did like it. For the ABBA-loving young history-of-art graduate who went on to marry a world leader, crazier things have certainly happened.
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