Cherie Blair, Britain's former first lady, has written a memoir fessing up that her baby Leo, born in 2000, was the product of prime ministerial...
LONDON — Cherie Blair, Britain’s former first lady, has written a memoir fessing up that her baby Leo, born in 2000, was the product of prime ministerial whoopee under Queen Elizabeth II’s royal roof at the Balmoral estate.
It’s the kind of thing most Britons probably didn’t want to know — or at least that’s what they say. But there it was last week, in a serialized memoir, “Speaking for Myself,” that has Britain buzzing.
Cherie Blair’s memoir is one of three published in recent weeks, all by people close to the former prime minister — his wife, his chief fundraiser and his former deputy prime minister.
But it was Cherie Blair’s book, predictably, that had the critics’ tweeds in a twist. As a high-paid, high-powered, highly opinionated female lawyer, she has always been a lightning rod in a political culture still dominated by men.
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Excerpted in London’s Times newspaper, Blair writes candidly of suspecting she might be pregnant in late September 1999:
“A few weeks before, we had been on the usual prime ministerial weekend to Balmoral. The first year we had actually stayed — in 1998 — I had been extremely disconcerted to discover that everything of mine had been unpacked. Not only my clothes, but the entire contents of my distinctly ancient toilet bag with its range of unmentionables. This year I had been a little more circumspect and had not packed my contraceptive equipment, out of sheer embarrassment.
“As usual up there, it had been bitterly cold, and what with one thing and another … but then, I thought, I can’t be. I’m too old. It must be the menopause.”
A pregnancy test confirmed that it was indeed not “the menopause,” and Blair, at 45, gave birth to her fourth child, Leo, the following May — the first baby born to a sitting prime minister in 150 years.
On other subjects, Cherie Blair reveals that she thought former President Clinton was “bloody stupid” for involving himself with Monica Lewinsky. “My reaction was basically, Oh Bill, how could you?” Blair writes.
Blair says she discussed the Lewinsky affair with Hillary Rodham Clinton. “If I had been impressed by Hillary before, I was doubly impressed by her now. Dignity is not the word.”
She said Hillary Rodham Clinton told her that she wanted to make sure the scandal didn’t undermine her husband’s presidency. “On a personal level, however, there is no doubt that she was furious and hurt — and rightly.”
Blair also writes that when she and the prime minister realized George W. Bush had defeated Al Gore in the 2000 election, “our hearts sank.” She said that Bush “didn’t seem comfortable with foreign affairs,” but that “Tony was determined that they should have a good relationship.”
But from the moment of their initial meeting at Camp David in early 2001, Blair writes, she concluded that “George is actually a very funny, charming man with a quirky sense of humor.”
The British tabloids were only mildly interested in the geopolitics. They were still stuck on what went on between Balmoral sheets, particularly on Blair’s disclosure that she had not packed her “contraceptive equipment.”
In the Sun, columnist Jane Moore mused about what “equipment” Blair might have meant. “So what could it be? A cumbersome, antique chastity belt perhaps? A full wetsuit and flippers to keep a clearly frisky Tony at bay? The nation awaits clarification with bated breath.”