Mr and Mrs Blair expect fourth child

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Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, Cherie Blair, is expecting their fourth child in May, 10 Downing St. announced Thursday.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, Cherie Blair, is expecting their fourth child in May, 10 Downing St. announced Thursday.

"They are delighted at the news, which came as a total shock," Blair's official spokesman said after being questioned by a London tabloid.

Mrs. Blair, 45, is a prominent lawyer who practices under her maiden name of Cherie Booth. She and the prime minister have two sons, Euan, 15 and Nicholas, 14, and an 11-year-old daughter, Kathyrn.

"Following inquiries from the Mirror newspaper I can confirm Cherie Blair is pregnant," the spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.

He said the couple had hoped to make the announcement later in the pregnancy.

Cherie Blair has continued her public appearances during the early stages of her pregnancy, showing no sign of wishing to keep out of the limelight despite her happy news.

Only tonight she was hosting one of her regular tea parties at Downing Street for children of constituents.

And on Wednesday night she was due to address a gathering of academics at Sussex University on the challenges facing professional women, though the event was cancelled at the last minute after students occupied the venue in a protest over tuition fees.

Mrs Blair is seen as a quintessential modern woman, having continued her career as a top barrister while juggling her roles as the high profile wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair and mother of three children, Euan, 15, Nicky, 14 and Kathryn, 11.

There has been no speculation of a change in her condition and her dress sense at recent events has won favourable comment.

Two weeks ago she impressed guests at a party to celebrate Diwali, the Indian festival of light, when she wore a traditional outfit of silk and organza.

One female guest said: "It's very elegant and suits her. She wears Indian dress very well."

Two weeks before that she wore a turquoise and purple salwar kameez, a traditional Indian outfit of trousers and long tunic, as she presented the inaugural Asian Women of Achievement awards.

Recently, she has been embroiled in a row over suggestions that she is unhappy at spending large amounts of cash on designer clothes.

According to reports, she has told friends she is spending "a fortune" on designer outfits so that the media will not attack her as looking "frumpy".

Downing Street, however, denied Mrs Blair was unhappy or was complaining about the costs.