Boris and Carrie Johnson celebrated their wedding at the grand Cotswolds estate of a major Tory donor with guests including staunch loyalists Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries.
The outgoing British prime minister and his wife hosted family and friends at 18th-century Daylesford House to celebrate their nuptials in a wider circle, after the pandemic forced them to scale back festivities last year.
The thrice-wed groom’s 81-year-old father Stanley Johnson and sister Rachel Johnson were there to mark his latest marriage, while Australian actor Holly Valance was also seen pulling into the estate.
Political allies who were also pictured arriving included Conservative Lord Zac Goldsmith and Tory MP John Whittingdale, as well as Cabinet colleagues Mr Rees-Mogg and Ms Dorries.
There were questions over whether defectors from Mr Johnson’s government would be culled from the guest list, with former health secretary Sajid Javid one of those notably not spotted arriving.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak and current foreign secretary Liz Truss missed the party as they were on the campaign trail in a bid to replace the prime minister.
A likely less welcome guest was anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray, who pitched up on a road near the wedding venue with a giant banner reading “corrupt Tory government”.
Ms Truss, at a campaign visit in Bromley, defended Mr Johnson for holding the lavish celebrations at a time when millions are struggling with ballooning bills.
Asked whether the prime minister should concentrate on such crises facing the country instead of partying, she told reporters: “I think he’s entitled to enjoy his wedding day, and I wish the best to him and Carrie and all the family.”
The event was being held in a huge white marquee on the expansive landscaped grounds of Daylesford House in Gloucestershire.
The Grade I-listed mansion is owned by Lord Bamford, chairman of construction equipment manufacturer JCB, who has donated millions to the Conservatives.
Staff were this week seen going in and out of the bunting-topped tent amid apparent party preparations.
Guests were able to relax on hay bales and benches placed outside the marquee and eat and drink at casks and small tables as they enjoyed views across vast meadows and orchards.
Mr and Mrs Johnson had originally been planning to throw their wedding party at the prime minister’s official country residence, Chequers, in Buckinghamshire.
Those plans led to suggestions that Mr Johnson wanted to stay on as a caretaker prime minister in part to see this through, although this was denied by Downing Street.
They were said to have sent out save-the-date cards for a celebration on July 30th, before deciding to change location.
The couple married in a low-key private ceremony at Westminster Cathedral last year, organised in secret, in front of a small group of family and friends.
This was followed by a reception in the gardens of 10 Downing Street with a limited number of guests due to coronavirus restrictions.
It was known Mr and Mrs Johnson planned to have a larger celebration this year after the restrictions had been relaxed.
Billionaire Lord Bamford is covering at least some of the cost of the party, the Mirror reported, quoting unnamed sources.
It is not the first time Mr Johnson has benefited from the JCB chairman’s backing.
The Tory peer supported his 2019 leadership bid, with Mr Johnson knocking down a wall with a JCB digger at the Staffordshire factory in a stunt to demonstrate he could “get Brexit done”.
Lord Bamford’s wife, Lady Carole Bamford, set up the upmarket Daylesford Organic Farm, with a chain of shops selling its produce across London.
Mr Johnson reportedly received food from the Daylesford farm shop worth an estimated £12,500 during the pandemic, though Downing Street said he paid for the cost of all food for “personal consumption”.
When asked about the wedding celebrations, No 10 declined to comment on the “private matter”.