Even before it was time to take afternoon tea, the keys to the castle at Number 10 Downing Street changed hands. Moving vans arrived early to cart out the Blairs' worldly possessions: beds, mattresses, fragile items and a treadmill — typical household goods.
Crowds clung to the gates to catch a glimpse of the departing Prime Minister one last time, while even the most jaded journalists snapped shots from their camera phones to remember the day Blair stepped down.
And in keeping to British traditions of ceremony, Blair began the day with his weekly routine of addressing the House of Commons with "Question Time," a chance to bid farewell to his political peers. From there he returned to Downing Street to face the press a final time and wish staff well. He left as he entered, surrounded by his family, catching a break in the raindrops. But it was wife Cherie who got the last word, with a jab at the press. "I don't think we'll miss you," she called out as he got into the ministerial Jaguar that was to transport them to Buckingham Palace.
Following the rules of the Constitution, Blair tendered his resignation to the Queen, allowing her to summon Gordon Brown and ask him to take the position.
And so, the pact between two political partners came to fruition as Gordon Brown became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
It was 13 years ago when Brown and Blair planned their futures over dinner at an Italian restaurant. Like an old married couple, the two developed an acrimonious relationship, with rumors that Blair's charisma and Brown's caution often clashed. But, like the Clintons, another famous pairing, what may not make for a great romance, has made great politics.
One of Brown's first priorities will be to resolve the issue of troops in Iraq. Blair was criticized for his unwavering support of the Iraq war and President Bush. Brown is expected to take a more neutral stance, which will win him favor among his constituents. It's believed Prime Minister Brown will seek to distinguish himself from his predecessor. This won't mean the U.K. will suddenly turn against the U.S., as the relationship is beneficial, and one Brown will be keen to maintain, but no one's expecting him to pose in a cowboy hat with Mr. Bush anytime soon.
Meantime, Blair will now serve as an envoy to the Middle East, with his chief goal being peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Many say it's a poisoned chalice, with no chance of success. Others say it's the perfect job for a man who wants to remain relevant, in a high profile position which allows him to maintain his friendships with world leaders. And if Blair is successful, he and Brown may find themselves headed toward a golden anniversary.