The Premier holiday life

Last week David Cameron jetted out to Tuscany for his family holiday. But where have other Prime Ministers spent their summer vacations? Samuel Muston takes a look back

Samuel Muston
Monday 01 August 2011 00:00
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William Gladstone

Where: North Wales; Biarritz; Cannes

The Grand Old Man certainly had an ascetic side – spending many a holiday chopping trees and swimming in Lakes in North Wales. It wasn't all hair shirts though; he also enjoyed gambolling around Biarritz and Cannes, largely at the expense of the industrialist Lord Armitstead.

David Lloyd George

Where: Wales

A Pathé news reel from 1922 shows the Welsh Wizard resting at his house in Wales. Entitled Premier's Simple Life Holiday: Mr Lloyd George Finds Brief Relief From His Great Political Worries by Planting Potatoes, it shows the moustachioed lawyer digging veg in a three-piece suit.

Stanley Baldwin

Where: Aix-les-Bains, France

Europe may have been marching towards war and the King considering abdication but, as Lord Halifax noted, Baldwin still found time to spend three months on holiday, mostly in Aix-les-Bains, during 1936.

Winston Churchill

Where: Lake Como, Italy; Monte Carlo

Churchill didn't find much time for holidays during the Second World War, but made up for it after the war when he was given a villa on Lake Como for three weeks (nominally a military command station) and managed to negotiate a £4-a-night rate at gambler's heaven, the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

Clement Attlee

Where: Nevin, North Wales

When not nationalising British industry or setting up the National Health Service, Attlee and his wife, Violet, were rather partial to taking a break at the seaside in Nevin in North Wales.

Edward Heath

Where: his yacht

The old seadog Heath spurned the comforts of expensive villas and five-star hotels and instead sought refuge aboard his sailing yacht, Morning Cloud. In a first for a sitting prime minister, he and his crew competed in a yacht race, the Admiral's Cup, and won.

Harold Macmillan

Where: Chatsworth, Derbyshire

Macmillan's concern for "Events, dear boy" didn't extend through August and September when he often could be found, shotgun in hand and tweed on his back, banging away at grouse on his wife's family estate at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire.

Margaret Thatcher

Where: Cornwall

All leave was cancelled when Mrs T crossed the threshold of No 10 and everyone was encouraged to get on their bikes and find work rather than laze on the beach. But she did valiantly attempt to take a break in 1986 and was pictured running along the beach in Cornwall in high heels, a spaniel trailing behind her.

Tony Blair

Where: Egypt; Florida; Italy

Perhaps remembering his friend Roy Jenkins' injunction that we "don't want to be governed by pygmies in boarding houses in Bognor", Blair wangled freebies at Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak's summer house, Robin Gibbs' Florida mansion and several boltholes belonging to of Silvio Berlusconi.

Gordon Brown

Where: Southwold, Suffolk

Never has a man looked as uncomfortable on holiday as Brown did on his austerity break in Southwold in 2008. Eschewing the Boden catalogue clothes of Cameron and Blair's groovy-dad look, he put on a vanilla-coloured jacket, black slacks and trooped up and down the roads of Suffolk.

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