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Britain's Former First Lady Shares Conceptional Details

Tony Blair posed with his family before departing the prime ministerial residence for the last time in June 2007. From left are Euan, Blair, Kathryn, Cherie and Nicky. Leo, in front, was born nine months after a visit by the Blairs to Queen Elizabeth II's Balmoral estate.
Tony Blair posed with his family before departing the prime ministerial residence for the last time in June 2007. From left are Euan, Blair, Kathryn, Cherie and Nicky. Leo, in front, was born nine months after a visit by the Blairs to Queen Elizabeth II's Balmoral estate. (Tom Hevezi - AP)
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By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What makes local news in the rest of the world? What do people debate, celebrate, worry about and condemn from day to day? Headlines, a feature to appear in the newspaper and at www.washingtonpost.com/world, will offer a regular window on communities, their values and their obsessions.

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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. Fans and detractors of the outspoken wife of Tony Blair are having at each other all over again, as they did for most of Blair's decade in office.

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 -- and all of whom are adding to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's growing political misery.

The books have been ripped by critics who accuse the authors of self-centered score-settling; the Daily Mail urged Brown to "ignore political pygmies bent on revenge."

But it has been Cherie Blair's book, predictably, that has 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.

The Daily Telegraph, a traditional foe of Blair's Labor Party, held its nose high this week when confronted with Cherie Blair's Balmoral account. The paper opined that such "lurid anecdotes of life in the Downing Street bunker" are "distasteful."

Said the Guardian: "No Thanks for the Memories."

Yet, funnily enough, pretty much every paper here reported Cherie's account of life between the Balmoral sheets. The readers have a right to know, and all that.

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."


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