Putting a ring on it: How Albanese planned his Valentine’s Day wedding proposal (2024)

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By James Massola

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Anthony Albanese’s wedding proposal to Jodie Haydon on Wednesday evening – on a balcony under the stars overlooking the green gardens of The Lodge – was the culmination of months of meticulous planning by the prime minister.

He had left nothing to chance, booking dinner at Canberra restaurant Italian and Sons, one of his long-time favourites known for its fine dining and discreet service, and taking the old-school romantic approach of waiting until Valentine’s Day.

Putting a ring on it: How Albanese planned his Valentine’s Day wedding proposal (1)

The pair spent a couple of hours in a private room at the back of the restaurant enjoying a two-course meal – including blue-eyed cod with couscous, saffron and zucchini flowers, pasta with octopus and capers, and another with smoked duck breast – before making the short drive back over the bridge to The Lodge.

Thankfully for Albanese, who surprised even his closest colleagues and friends with the announcement on social media on Thursday morning, “she said yes”.

The couple, both Catholics who have been together for about four years, are firm in their love and friendship – they enjoy similar music, walking the PM’s dog Toto, watching the South Sydney Rabbitohs and playing games of pool in The Lodge.

For the first time in Australian history, a prime minister could be married while occupying the nation’s top political office – though a date is yet to be set and the happy couple were tight-lipped when asked about it on Thursday.

“We are thrilled and excited to share this news and look forward to spending the rest of our lives together. We are so lucky to have found each other,” they said in a short statement.

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Later, as the pair posed for photos on the back lawns of the prime minister’s residence, they professed their love for each other.

“It’s wonderful that I’ve found a partner who I want to spend the rest of my life with. And last night was a very great occasion here at The Lodge and we couldn’t be more happy,” Albanese said.

“I just want to thank everybody for such warm congratulations today, from our friends to our family, from people that we don’t know, it’s just been overwhelming but beautiful,” Haydon added.

Putting a ring on it: How Albanese planned his Valentine’s Day wedding proposal (2)

“It’s only been 24 hours,” she laughed when asked when the wedding would be.

“We will now have those discussions between us, which I think people would understand, and sort out those details. But we just want to live in the moment at this point,” Albanese said.

The yet-to-be-decided location of the nuptials will be closely watched, too: a gala event at the prime minister’s Kirribilli residence in Sydney would likely attract a huge crowd of well-wishers and paparazzi, a “secret” wedding at a winery or other venue would probably leak quickly, meaning the grounds of The Lodge might be just the ticket for the big day.

The prime minister helped design the ring, which appeared to contain a generous two to three-carat diamond.

Putting a ring on it: How Albanese planned his Valentine’s Day wedding proposal (3)

His office was tight-lipped about which jeweller made the ring, but in the past Haydon has favoured Cerrone, which has its head office in Leichhardt, located in Albanese’s seat of Grayndler. She wore its jewels when she accompanied the prime minister to a state dinner US President Joe Biden held in his honour last October.

Denise, a staff member at the flagship store, said the prime minister “is a very private person and it’s up to him to say” when asked by this masthead if the ring had come from the jeweller.

Their wedding is the third to be announced by members of the Albanese cabinet this year. Foreign Minister Penny Wong and her partner Sophie Allouache, and Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic and his partner Fiona Scott – the chief of staff to independent senator David Poco*ckalso plan to wed.

In May 2022, after an election campaign announcement about protecting the Great Barrier Reef, I joined Albanese and Haydon for a walk on the white sands of Fitzroy Island.

Haydon was personable, funny and engaging (and made a point of saying she had grown up reading The Sydney Morning Herald). It was clear the couple were quite taken with each other, but there was also a caution, a reserve about entering public life. While she was happy for photos to be taken of the couple, she didn’t wish to speak on the record.

The Sydney-born, Central Coast-raised partner of Australia’s 31st prime minister has not sought the limelight, rarely giving interviews or speaking publicly.

All of that is about to change.

Haydon has remained living in Sydney rather than moving to The Lodge with Albanese in Canberra, though she has been a regular visitor and members of her family have visited, too – her father and brother have even enjoyed a hit of tennis with the PM on the court at the Canberra residence and Albanese is said to be very fond of the Haydon family.

Putting a ring on it: How Albanese planned his Valentine’s Day wedding proposal (4)

Where the soon-to-be first lady of Australian politics will live now is just one of the many unanswered questions since Haydon accepted Albanese’s proposal.

A prime ministerial wedding – perhaps the closest Australia would ever get to a royal wedding on home shores – is uncharted territory.

And two very private people’s special day is now a matter of keen public interest.

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Putting a ring on it: How Albanese planned his Valentine’s Day wedding proposal (2024)

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