Meet Victoria Starmer, the UK's First Jewish 'First Lady' – Kveller
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Meet Victoria Starmer, the UK’s First Jewish ‘First Lady’

The wife of newly elected U.K. Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer maintains a strong connection to her Jewish roots.


Credit: Christopher Furlong, Getty Images

Last Friday, Victoria Starmer, the wife of newly elected U.K. Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer, made a striking entrance onto the international stage. She accompanied her husband to 10 Downing Street and stood by his side as he delivered his first speech as PM, following Labour’s landslide election win. Her vibrant poppy red dress  served as a powerful symbol of Britain’s transition to a new era under Labour, marking the end of 14 years of Conservative Party rule.

While Lady Starmer typically shies away from public appearances, her recent debut was  —  according to critics  —  nothing short of remarkable, underscoring her soaring popularity with the British public. Within two days, the midi dress she wore designed by Me+Em sold out. Beyond being a rising fashion icon, though, Victoria is an accomplished woman in her own right, driven by a strong ethos and commitment to public service, as well as a hands-on mother of two.

Here’s what you need to know about Britain’s first Jewish “first lady,” who is already introducing Shabbat traditions to 10 Downing Street.

  1. Born in North London, she maintains a strong connection to her Jewish roots. 

Affectionately known as Vic or Vicky, Starmer is younger than Keir, though her exact birth date remains undisclosed. Her father, Bernard Alexander, is an observant Jew with Polish-Jewish roots  —  his family migrated to the United Kingdom before World War II. Victoria herself has visited the village near Kolo which they fled.

Barbara, her mother, worked as a general practitioner in the National Health Service (NHS) and converted to Judaism upon marriage. Victoria’s upbringing was steeped in the Jewish faith, and she attended Gospel Oak Primary School before moving on to the private day school Channing in Highgate.

Like many Jews, she has family in Israel, and Keir has voiced deep concern for their safety following the October 7 massacre. In an interview with LBC, he emphasized that he and his wife “have a deep sense of shock at what is happening” and highlighted the “incredible anxiety” they are experiencing for their extended family in Israel.

  1. Lady Starmer forged her own political path.

Victoria Starmer has been a staunch Labour Party supporter since her student days, actively protesting education reforms during her tenure as Cardiff University’s education and welfare officer. She vigorously opposed reforms proposed by the then-Tory Education Secretary John Patten, including the abolition of “closed shop” unions and cuts to funding for political activities. These battles paved the way for her landslide victory as student union president. “The three words on my ballot were ‘Make My Day’. Thank you Cardiff for doing it,” a then-21-year-old Vic reportedly said after her win, as per Gair Rhydd — the student newspaper.

Her commitment to the party persisted as she volunteered at former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s campaign headquarters in 1997. Later, she pursued a career as a solicitor in London, specializing initially in street crime cases in Soho. Today, Victoria continues to embody her ethos of public service as an occupational health worker for the NHS in Camden. Alongside her professional responsibilities, she actively participates on the board of governors at her children’s school and remains a popular figure within local mums’ networks.

  1. An unconventional romance

The Starmers met in the early 2000s, when Keir, who was working on a case as a barrister, asked to speak to the solicitor, his future wife, to confirm the accuracy of some legal papers.

At the end of their call, Starmer said he heard her mutter, “Who the f*** does he think he is?” before hanging up. According to Keir, who shared the anecdote with British Vogue, “You might think, ‘Not the best of starts,’ but it was absolutely classic Vic,” he said, laughing. “Very sassy, very down to earth, no nonsense from anyone, including from me.”

Despite this less-than-ideal beginning, their first date at a pub on Camden Park Road, where they enjoyed inexpensive pizzas, was a success. The rest, as they say, is history.

  1. Despite Keir being an atheist, the Starmer household actively observes Shabbat, with family gatherings and traditional rituals.

Despite the PM himself not being religious, the Starmers make it a point to honor Jewish traditions, such as taking their children to temple at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood.

Recently, Keir was on the receiving end of some rather outlandish mockery for his commitment to protecting family time, especially Shabbat on Fridays. Nonetheless, in an interview with Virgin Radio, he explained, “We’ve had a strategy in place and we’ll try to keep to it, which is to carve out really protected time for the kids. So on a Friday — I’ve been doing this for years — I will not do a work-related thing after six o’clock, pretty well come what may.” 

Speaking to the Guardian, he added, “Pretty much every week there’s a challah and the children say kiddush with Bernard, or sometimes with Victoria’s sister on Zoom. Their Jewish heritage is important, and we’re very keen for the children to know about it, to understand it.”

  1. Influence within the Labour Party

Behind the scenes, Victoria is said to wield considerable influence. A friend describes her as Keir’s unwavering support, emphasizing that he seeks her counsel before making any decisions. Keir himself acknowledged this on Sky News, stating, “She is my complete partner in this; she didn’t sign up for it, but she’s absolutely central.”

As a political spouse, she has faced scrutiny  —  particularly from the Corbynista hard-left, especially from those who believe she played a role in Jeremy Corbyn’s removal from the party, amidst his antisemitism controversy.

However, it’s essential to note that it was the National Executive Committee (NEC) that made the verdict to prevent Corbyn from standing as a Labour candidate in the next election, following the report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This decision received approval from Sir Keir Starmer, who succeeded Corbyn as Labour leader, and there is no evidence directly implicating Victoria.

  1. A private figure

Unlike in the United States, the U.K. does not have an official title for the prime minister’s spouse. Despite her newfound prominence, Victoria is expected to maintain a modest public profile while continuing her NHS role and contributing to the wider community.

Despite her privacy, Victoria has occasionally stepped into the public eye. Spotted during photo-op walkabouts with her husband, she exuded style and popularity at Labour conferences. Her first significant appearance was at the 2021 Labour conference in Brighton. There, under the watchful gaze of media scrutiny (her outfit  —  a £269 navy blue eco-friendly polyester dress by French fashion house Claudie Pierlot  —  was swiftly dissected by news pages), she warmly embraced her husband on stage after his speech.

Yet beyond these select public moments, Victoria remains relatively unknown. It’s telling that until recently, she lacked a Wikipedia page. As per Sky News: “Victoria Starmer has never done an interview — and according to the prime minister, that’s not about to change.”

Nonetheless, as the Starmers family settles into the poky “flat above the shop” (ahem, the Prime Minister’s residence), we eagerly await to see what lies ahead in Victoria’s journey.

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