Pic: Marina with half-cousin Rahul; (Left) With BoJo
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will probably remain the first British premiere to have a strong Indian connection. His estranged second wife, Marina Wheeler, whom he married in 1993, has an ethno-Indian mother. Dip Singh has been a distinguished British media name.
Dip had previously been married to Khushwant Singh’s youngest brother, Daljit Singh, a national junior tennis champion. Her marriage to Marina’s father, Sir Charles, was the second.
Marina is the half-niece of the late editor and writer Khushwant Singh. Before they announced their separation last year after 25 years of marriage, Johnson had travelled several times to India with Marina and stayed with her cousins in Delhi and Mumbai. Ms Wheeler’s book on the Indian side of her family “The Lost Homestead” was published by Hodder & Stoughton in spring 2020.
Marina, 55, a barrister who is a Queen’s Counsel, and Boris, 55, now Prime Minister have four children, the youngest of whom, Theodore Apollo, 20, was born in 1999. In June 2020, Marina attended two days of the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival held at King’s College London. She is also a cervical cancer survivor.
The festival is now an annual affair organised by Khushwant’s journalist son, Rahul Singh. Marina and her elder sister, Shirin, are the daughters of Dip Singh, who in 1961 married the distinguished BBC journalist, Sir Charles Wheeler, who was once based in Delhi.
In 2012, the Indian Journalist’s Association in London gave a lifetime achievement award to Sir Charles, which was handed over by the then Indian high commissioner in London, Jamini Bhagwati, to Marina and Shirin. Marina visited India since to conduct research into her family background. The book is a result of her trails.
BoJo is currently married to Carrie Johnson, his third spouse. The couple were in an affair since 2018 while he was still married to Marina. When in July 2019, Johnson became PM, both he and Symonds officially moved into the flat above 11 Downing Street. She was the first unmarried partner of a PM to reside at Downing Street.
The couple announced their engagement in 2020, though they exchanged rings in 2019. A few months later, son Wilfred was born.
Symonds married Boris Johnson in May 2021 in a secret ceremony at Westminster Cathedral attended by thirty guests. In July 2021, she announced that they were expecting their second child together, also revealing that she had suffered a miscarriage earlier that year. In December that year, their daughter was born.