Marina Wheeler is the second wife of Boris Johnson, the eccentric British politician whose face is constantly splashed across the British tabloids. Boris Johnson was mayor of London and then — until his sudden resignation on July 9 — served as the UK’s foreign secretary. He got a lot of media attention, both for his unusual sense of style, and for his backing of conservative policies.
But Marina Wheeler is more than just a politician’s wife. She is a lawyer, specializing in human rights law. She has her own, strong, opinions about politics and policy. And she is a mother to four children.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Marina and Boris Were Childhood Friends. They Reconnected — and Fell in Love– After Boris’s Divorce.
Marina and Boris got to know each other as school children. They both attended the European School in Brussels, a private elementary school favored by expatriates.
Marina’s father, Sir Charles Wheeler, was a leading TV journalist who was sent to Brussels to cover European politics when Marina was 9 years old. Marina apparently showed up to her first day of school in Brussels wearing an “impeach Nixon” button. Boris Johnson, whose father was a politician working with the EU, was enrolled in the same school. Boris reportedly asked Marina was “impeach” meant. From then on, the two were good friends.
They lost touch with each other after they left Brussels, but they reconnected years later in London, when both were in their mid-twenties. Boris had just divorced his first wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen. Boris and Marina married in 1993.
2. Marina Is a Highly Regarded Human Rights Lawyer
Marina is a “Queens Counsel,” which is a mark of distinction for lawyers in the UK.
According to the website of her law firm, Marina specializes in “Administrative and Public Law and family law cases with a cross-border or national security angle.”
She has worked for the UK’s Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, and the and Home Office. Her legal work has mainly been in cases involving prisons, mental health, armed conflict, and radicalization.She’s also worked on cases about child protection and adult social care, usually with a privacy or human rights element.
She has written critically about the European Court of Justice, and has called for the UK to separate from the EU and regain its own sovereignty.
3. She Forgave Boris After He Had Several Affairs. Later the Tabloids Accused Her of Having Her Own “Drunken Romp.”
In 2004, Boris Johnson confessed to having had a four-year affair with a journalist named Petronella Wyatt. The two met when Boris was the editor of the Spectator, a conservative magazine where Hyatt worked as a writer. They had what sounds, from all accounts, like a passionate and very emotional affair, and Wyatt has written very warmly about him. In an essay penned after their affair had already ended, she wrote,
“the key to Boris lies in his concealed and sometimes agonised personality. He is Wodehouse with tears. He is a man who loves jokes, but he is not a joker. He is a performer who is an introvert, veering between ebullience and self-doubt; a happy-looking man for whom happiness can be precarious.”
Eventually, Wyatt had become pregnant and had an abortion. She and Boris split up.
In 2009, while he was mayor of London, Boris fathered a child with Helen Macintyre, an unpaid adviser in City Hall.
Marina forgave Boris for these affairs. Then, in 2016, rumors circulated that she had been caught in her own “drunken romp,” and had been involved in a “drunken romantic rendezvous” with another lawyer at London’s Waterloo Station. Marina and Boris completely denied these rumors.
4. Marina’s Mother Is Indian, and the Indian Press Says That Helped Boris Got Elected Mayor of London
Marina’s mother, Dip Singh, was originally from India. She was a member of the Sikh religion. Marina’s father, Charles Wheeler, was at one time the BBC’s correspondent in Delhi. Dip Singh was Charles’s second wife; they married in 1961 and had two daughter together.
The Telegraph of India points out that Boris Johnson likes to talk about his “Indian relatives.” The Telegraph also believes that the “Indian vote” — the turnout among people of Indian descent living in London — helped get Boris elected as mayor of London.
Marina and Boris Have Four Children Together. The Kids Use a Hyphenated Last Name.
Marina and Boris have four children: Milo, an undergraduate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, or SOAS, in London; Theodore, a schoolboy; Lara, who studies Latin at St Andrews University and is a student journalist; and Cassia. The children all use the last name Johnson-Wheeler.
The family lives in Islington, a well-heeled neighborhood in north London.