The ‘Carrie Antoinette’ Memes Might Seem Funny – But They’re A Sexist Distraction From Boris Johnson

The pun on the PM's wife's name has been trending amid the latest Downing Street party scandal.

Carrie Antoinette

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |

It’s worryingly unsurprising at this point that there are reports of another Downing Street party during the UK’s first lockdown. The cause for celebration this time was allegedly Boris Johnson’s 56th birthday, where up to 30 people, including Lulu Lytle (of wallpaper controversy fame) gathered in the Cabinet Room to offer many happy returns.

‘At the afternoon event, Carrie Johnson and Lulu Lytle are believed to have presented the prime minister with a cake whilst his wife led staff in a chorus of happy birthday,’the ITV report read. ‘Those assembled are understood to have eaten picnic food from M&S, with the gathering lasting for around 20-30 minutes.’

While Boris, Carrie and their companions were allegedly celebrating in a government building, the rest of the country were forbidden from gathering indoors with thousands missing out on birthdays and other special occasions of their own.

Within minutes of the story breaking, a popular pun had been resurrected: ‘Carrie Antoinette’ was trending on Twitter. Johnson’s wife’s face was photoshopped onto paintings of the Queen of France, who supposedly said ‘let them eat cake’ while peasants were starving during the French Revolution.

The edited pictures showed Carrie reclining on a chaise lounge surrounded by baked goods while Boris knelt down and put on her shoe. Her face was also superimposed on Marie Antoinette’s 18th-century portrait alongside the captionL ‘Let them eat birthday cake’.

Even M&S’ Colin The Caterpillar was dragged into the controversy, among speculation as to what type of birthday cake Johnson may have received. ‘This is not just a caterpillar, this is a caterpillar that is going to bring down the government,’ wrote one user.

‘If what brings down Boris Johnson is a photo of him blowing out the candles on a Colin the Caterpillar I will never, ever stop laughing,’ added author Emma Hughes.

The ridiculousness of it all is laughable. Members of the public abiding by the rules and sacrificing their own happiness, while senior government figures seemingly treated the pandemic like a glorified Freshers Week has made a mockery of our authority figures.

But, amongst the laugh-so-you-don’t-cry humour it’s important to note that this party wasn’t just a consequence of Carrie Johnson’s actions. With numerous Downing Street parties allegedly taking place under his leadership, Boris Johnson has arguably created a culture of disobedience and superiority.

The leader of our country shouldn’t be able to be led by the hand like a child captivated by a big cake into a roomful of his friends and colleagues while government guidelines demand we do otherwise. Boris is meant to stand for authority, and many have been left thinking after the latest accusation: what kind of leader is this easily swayed?

Carrie being blamed for Boris Johnson’s downfall is ludicrous and sexist. He’s held ministerial positions for over 15 years, was Mayor of London for eight and has been Prime Minister since 2019. Just like when he claimed of a previous BYOB gathering that he ‘didn’t know’ it was a party, the rebuttal is simple: he should have known better.

'Carrie Antoinette' is just the latest nickname to add to the ever-growing glossary of insults that began when Carrie Johnson's relationship with Boris went public in 2019. ‘Mad Queen’ and even ‘Princess Nut Nuts’ have also been used in headlines.

To blame the Prime Minister’s wife for his mistakes creates a worrying loophole for him to crawl through in order to escape culpability should he wish to be re-elected. Like Allegra Stratton, who has so far been the only public figure to resign over the first Downing Street party scandal, Carrie could also become a scapegoat to save Boris’ sinking ship.

It's important to remember, she might have carried the cake – but she’s not the leader of this country.

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