The mixed blessing of being a Downing Street baby
NATALIE CLARKE: The mixed blessing of being a Downing Street baby
- Boris, Carrie and Dilyn, their dog, live on top floors of Number 11, Downing Street
- Samantha Cameron designed spacious, 4-bedroom flat on the top two floors
- Mrs Cameron gave birth to daughter, Florence, when they were living there
Boris and Carrie’s apartment on the top two floors of Number 11, Downing Street is, in some ways, the perfect place to raise a baby.
It’s spacious, with four bedrooms, a modern stainless steel kitchen and living area set in an open-plan arrangement designed by previous incumbent, Samantha Cameron.
At present it’s just 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 private back staircase leads down to the garden, which is lovely and secluded, and beyond is St James’s Park, perfect for taking the baby for a walk in the pram.
Samantha Cameron gave birth to her daughter, Florence (pictured), in 2010 when her husband David was Prime Minister
But in another sense, it’s downright weird. For on the floors below, the Chancellor and staff are working around the clock while the pram will be parked in the hall beneath Number 11’s famous 18th-century lantern.
Next door to Number 11 is, of course, Number 10 Downing Street — from where Prime Minister Boris Johnson runs the country.
In this environment, a baby might seem somewhat incongruous.
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.
Everywhere she goes when 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.
Boris and Carrie’s apartment on the top two floors of Number 11, Downing Street is, in some ways, the perfect place to raise a baby
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,’ says an insider. ‘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.
Carrie may well find she prefers the space and seclusion afforded by other prime ministerial residences. Chequers, the PM’s 16th-century country residence in Buckinghamshire, is undergoing repair work, which explains why Boris and Carrie have lately been using Chevening, the country residence shared with Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary.
After Mrs Cameron gave birth to Florence in 2010 she ‘went off the scene’ for a bit and went to stay with her parents
‘These grace and favour places are quite well staffed,’ explains the insider. ‘There’s never a moment when you can’t go to the loo because of the baby.’
The new baby will be the third in recent years. Before the Camerons’ baby Florence, there was Leo, born in 2000 to the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his wife, Cherie.
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.
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,’ says the insider. You are the little princess or, the princeling. The world revolves around you because of who your parents are.’
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