A family imprisoned by the many privileges of office

Giving his first interview since becoming Prime Minister, David Cameron described a surreal moment that brought home the change that taken over his life. "The radio went off as I was just waking up in my own bed at home," he told The Sun. "I heard 'This morning, the Prime Minister will ...' and I thought 'Oh God, what's he doing now?' And then I thought, 'Oh no, hang on a second; it's me.'"

There will be many more culture shocks in store for Mr Cameron and his family as they accustom themselves to high-pressure life in 10 Downing Street. Samantha Cameron, five months' pregnant, has already accepted that life cannot continue as before, and has stepped down from her full-time post as "creative consultant" for the upmarket stationery firm, Smythson. She will work two days a week.

The decision will knock a big hole in the family income. Her earnings were reputed to be £400,000, and her husband has just reduced the Prime Minister's salary to £142,500. But the Camerons are not going to be strapped for cash.

In addition to wealthy parents on both sides, they will enjoy their grace-and-favour home in Downing Street and their country home in Chequers. They will probably rent out their £2m home in west London, bringing them an income as the property gains in value. And if two official homes are not sufficient, they can fall back on their £750,000 mansion in David Cameron's Witney seat, bought with a £21,000-a-year mortgage paid by the taxpayer.

In the spacious, airy rooms of Downing Street, where they will spend most of their days, there will always be a pleasant buzz of activity, and always someone on hand to give help. If they need to travel, there will be a car outside, with a driver. If they need to make a phone call, they need not look up the number, because Downing Street's unflappable "switch" is famed for being able to track down anyone, anywhere.

What will be much harder will be the utter loss of privacy. Previous prime ministers' wives have had to cope with indignities such as waking in the morning to find a civil servant by the bed with an urgent message for the prime minister. Even when the family is on holiday, Mr Cameron will never be out of touch with the Civil Service, and there will always be armed guards near by.

Downing Street was almost entirely child-free for decades until the Blairs moved in. Leo Blair, who will be 10 next week, was the first child to be fathered by a prime minister since Francis Russell, son of Lord John Russell in 1849.

The flat above 11 Downing Street – which is larger and more child friendly than the one over No 10 – is empty now, as staff move in to clean it, but the Camerons are expected to move in soon, with Nancy, aged six, and four-year-old Elwen.

The children will have the extensive gardens of Downing Street to play in, and at weekends they can explore the 1,500-acre estate around Chequers, but little about their lives will be normal.

Other children learn independence in small stages, such as being allowed to go to the shops alone for the first time, but not the Cameron children. An adult will have to accompany them whenever they leave the heavily guarded compound around Downing Street, and the police will have to know where they are. From now, the Camerons are a family imprisoned in their privileges.

News
peopleChildren leave in tears as Santa is caught smoking and drinking
Arts and Entertainment
A host of big name acts recorded 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' in London on Saturday
musicCharity single tops chart
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall has become the eighth celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing
tv
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin