Surely the Cenotaph Remembrance Service on Sunday was such an occasion. But apparently not so for the Blairs. They were quite happy to let Euan, 13, Nicholas, 11, and Kathryn, 9, appear on the balcony of the Foreign Office, in full view of the crowds and veterans below, dressed in T-shirts and sweatshirts. They were, admittedly, wearing poppies, but this served only to highlight the casual nature of their clothes even more.
Their father was of course part of the event - and he was dressed entirely appropriately. Even their mother had made the effort with a sombre black number - but the kids looked as if they'd rushed along after a quick game of football in the back garden. Slumped on the balcony, stifling the odd yawn, they looked as if they would have been much happier watching Cartoon Network. They were certainly dressed for that.
I have two girls, aged four and nine, and I know what hell it can be to make them look smart and presentable. Children's clothes now are perfect for casual wear - stretchy, brightly coloured leggings, pull-on jumpers, polo shirts, fleecy jackets and Kicker boots. They look great - and they are convenient for parents because they wash easily. But wave anything like a smart skirt or buttoned blouse at my two and they run a mile. Amidst much grumbling they will wear such clothes for school - but out of school hours, I have to physically pin them down to force them into granny-pleasing outfits.
But I think that is good for their souls. They have to realise that occasionally we have to dress to please other people, not just wear what we feel comfortable in. Children also have to realise that certain clothes are appropriate for certain occasions, and dressing up in a smart jacket and tie shows respect. T-shirts don't.
Both the Blair boys attend the Oratory School, in west London, where they have to wear a uniform of black blazer, striped tie, and grey slacks, so a little formality wouldn't have been unfamiliar at all. It would have cost nothing for Cherie to suggest that they put on their blazers. She wouldn't even have had to insist on a collar and tie - a long-sleeved polo shirt in a dark colour would have just about passed muster. The point is that the young Blairs didn't have to be at the service on Sunday, but the way they were allowed to dress was as if she was saying, "OK, I know they all look a bit of a mess, but kids will be kids, won't they? Does it matter what they wear?"
Well, I think is the answer is yes. They are the Prime Minister's children, after all.Reuse content