With the birth of his son in the early hours of this morning, Boris Johnson becomes only the fourth Prime Minister in 150 years to welcome a baby to Downing Street.
His fiancée Carrie Symonds, 32, is thought to be still in the NHS London hospital where she gave birth but will soon return to the four-bedroom flat she shares with Mr Johnson above No 11.
In doing so, the new family-of-three will be following in the footsteps of former Prime Ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair, who both became fathers while in office and had the highly unusual experience of raising children at Downing Street.
The Camerons welcomed youngest daughter Florence, now nine, shortly after the 2010 election, while Tony and Cherie had son Leo, now 19, in 2009, three years after he was voted in for the first time.
With the birth of his son in the early hours of this morning, Boris Johnson becomes only the fourth Prime Minister in 150 years to welcome a baby to Downing Street. David and Samantha Cameron welcomed daughter Florence in 2010 (left outside No 10) while Tony and Cherie Blair had their fourth child, Leo, in 2000, three years after he was first elected (right together)
While Mr Johnson, already a father of five, and Miss Symonds will no doubt want to put their own stamp on parenting as a Prime Minister, there are certainly lessons that can be learned from their predecessors. Pictured, the couple outside Downing Street in December 2019
The fourth Prime Minister to become a father in office was First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Russell, whose second wife, Lady Russell, gave birth to two sons, George and Francis in 1848 and 1849, respectively.
While Mr Johnson, already a father of five, and Miss Symonds will no doubt want to put their own stamp on parenting as a Prime Minister, there are certainly lessons that can be learned from their predecessors.
From the Camerons’ flair for interior design to the Blairs’ escapes to Chequers, here
A SPACIOUS APARTMENT WITH ROOMS TO SPARE
Boris and Carrie’s home above No 11 is spacious, with four bedrooms, a modern stainless steel kitchen and living area set in an open-plan arrangement designed by previous incumbent, Samantha Cameron. Pictured, Mrs Cameron hosting a breakfast club in the kitchen
Boris and Carrie chose to eschew the Prime Minister’s two-bedroom apartment above No. 10 Downing Street in favour of living in the Chancellor’s larger, four-bedroom home above No. 11.
Up until now it has just been Boris and Carrie with Dilyn, their Jack Russell cross terrier, so there is potential to convert one of the rooms into a nursery, or accommodate a nanny.
A luxury kitchen fit for a yummy mummy
Cherie Blair had previously admitted that when she saw the kitchen at No 11, her heart sank because it was so outdated.
Samantha Cameron wasted no time in creating her own impression on the flat, with reports suggesting they had spent more than £600,000 making it look more modern in the Scandanavian, ‘minimalist’ style she is said to have favoured.
Photos which later emerged of the interior showed £25,000 kitchen with a £1,615 Flos Arco floor lamp, a £799 hood cooker by Sigma and a £250 Hemnes black wooden dresser from IKEA.
The upgrades made the home much more comfortable – as well as photogenic – when the Camerons hosted the great and good, with the Obamas among many guests over their six-year tenure of the building.
A glimpse inside the flat when the US First Lady arrived in 2011 showed the Camerons had also installed a £500 coffee machine, a £299 Magimix food processor and a smart £3,799 Britannia Sigma range oven.
The swap between the No10 and No11 flat was originally done Tony Blair, who chose the more spacious property on his election in 1997 in order to better accommodate his three children, Euan, Nicky and Kathryn. His youngest son, Leo, was born three years later in May 2000.
The arrangement worked out especially well as Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor, was single at the time. He married wife Samantha in 2000.
When the Camerons first arrived at Downing Street, the couple moved into the top floor Georgian flat above Number 10. But at the time of youngest daughter Florence’s birth in August 2010, they were planning to take up residence next door.
The early arrival of their new baby forced the family to move sooner than they had planned.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph one month after her birth, Mr Cameron revealed that Florence had been sleeping in a cardboard box.
He said: ‘Nancy [his daughter] made her a cardboard box when we were in Cornwall as we didn’t have a cot and decorated it and she’s still in the cardboard box. She’ll be able to say I was brought up in Downing Street in a cardboard box.’
The property also enjoys the benefit of a private lift – perfect for transporting a pram – and a private back staircase leads down to the garden, which is lovely and secluded.
Just beyond is St James’s Park, perfect for taking new baby Johnson for a stroll.
PIANO PRACTICE AND NIGHTS IN FRONT OF THE TV
Tony Blair complained about the strains of bringing up a young family in Downing Street and his determination to protect his children from public scrutiny. He also said he and Cherie tried to keep a ‘normal’ life with nights in front of the TV and doing homework with the children. Pictured, with their children Nicky, Euan, Leo and Kathryn outside No 10 in 2005
The demands of a newborn baby and the sleepless nights he brings will no doubt add to the strain Mr Johnson already feels as Prime Minister during these unprecedented times.
However in time the family will settle into their own routine and will find their own way to balance a life together with the demands of Mr Johnson’s job.
The pampered prince of Downing Street
Boris’s baby is likely to be mightily spoilt. Florence was very much in her element in Downing Street by all accounts.
‘She lived there for the first five years of her life and everyone who worked there loved her,’ an insider told the Daily Mail.
‘You are the little princess or, the princeling. The world revolves around you because of who your parents are.’
In her element: Florence Cameron, born in 2010, at Downing Street
Tony Blair complained about the strains of bringing up a young family in Downing Street and his determination to protect his children from public scrutiny.
But the Blairs did all they could to keep a normal routine, and spoke about eating supper with the children, overseeing homework, supervising piano practice and watching TV together when they could.
Cherie openly breast-fed her baby at Downing Street functions, which caused raised eyebrows, but times have moved on and Downing Street has a more modern outlook.
The Camerons also shared a playful photograph of daughter Florence sitting in the Red Box as a toddler.
Of course, depending on how long Mr Johnson is in office, his son might not remember his life spent at Downing Street.
While promoting his memoirs, For The Record, in October, Mr Cameron said Florence, leaving Downing Street in July 2016, was hazy about his time in power.
Aged five at the time, she asked her father, who relayed the story at the Cheltenham Literature Festival: ‘Daddy, is it true, were you actually the Prime Minister?’
EARLY WEEKS OF UNCERTAINTY
The ongoing lockdown means that for Carrie, there will be no popping out to Boots for nappies, no taking the baby out for a stroll in the pram to a coffee shop. Baby supplies will need to be ordered and delivered in an operation that will require military planning.
However the scrutiny Downing Street and its residents are subjected to means it is far from a ‘normal’ experience for a new mother, even when the country is not in crisis.
Every time she steps out of the flat, she will be under minute scrutiny. Friends and family who want to come and see the baby will have to go through all the security rigmarole.
Which is why, perhaps, according to a well-informed Downing Street source, after Samantha Cameron gave birth to her daughter, Florence, in 2010 when her husband David was Prime Minister, she ‘went off the scene’ for a bit and went to stay with her parents.
‘It’s great in some ways,’ the insider told the Daily Mail. ‘You’re surrounded by people. You’re not isolated, like some new mothers are. You’ve got all the mod cons.
‘It’s fine, but if I were Carrie I would spend as much time as possible out of Downing Street. It’s a workplace. The flat is very private, but you’re living above the shop. All the security arrangements make it incredibly hard for people to come and go. You are living in a fortress. It’s not normal.’
AN ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY
Carrie may well find she prefers the space and seclusion afforded by other prime ministerial residences. The Blairs and their brood certainly maid the most of Chequers, where they spent weekends and school holidays. Pictured, the PM’s country home in Buckinghamshire
Carrie may well find she prefers the space and seclusion afforded by other prime ministerial residences.
The couple recently spent time at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s 16th-century country residence in Buckinghamshire, while Mr Johnson recovered from coronavirus. They have also spent time at Chevening, the country residence shared with Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary.
The Blairs and their brood certainly maid the most of Chequers, where they spent weekends and school holidays.
With its heated swimming pool and extensive grounds, the country retreat certainly offers plenty of space for a growing child to enjoy – and might offer new mother Carrie a welcome break from London life.
Bouncing babies of Downing Street
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds’ new son is the latest baby to be born to a serving prime minister.
Downing Street has been home to a number of babies, with Tony Blair and David Cameron both adding to their families while in Number 10.
But that is a relatively recent trend, with a gap of more than a century before Leo Blair became a Downing Street baby.
Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha welcomed daughter Florence Rose Endellion Cameron into the world in 2010.
Mr Cameron had only formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats three months prior to her being born, with the general election that year producing a hung parliament.
Florence was delivered by Caesarean section at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro while the Camerons were on their summer holiday.
She was Mr and Mrs Cameron’s fourth child, although their eldest son Ivan, who suffered from cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy, died the year before sister Florence’s arrival.
Cherie Blair gave birth to Leo three years after Labour’s 1997 general election win.
Mr Blair’s youngest son was the first child legitimately born to a serving prime minister for more than 150 years.
In Cherie’s memoirs, Speaking For Myself, the QC revealed Leo was conceived during a visit to Balmoral, the Queen’s residence in Scotland.
Leo was born at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London on May 20, 2000 at 00.25am, weighing 6lbs 12oz.
He joined sister Kathryn and brothers Euan and Nicky in the Blair sibling ranks.
GEORGE AND FRANCIS RUSSELL
Before Mr Blair, it was Lord John Russell and wife Lady Russell who produced the last child to be born to the office holder of First Lord of the Treasury – the prime minister’s official title.
Lady Russell gave birth to two sons, George and Francis, during her husband’s first stint in office between 1846 and 1852.