Before the birth of his fourth child, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he wouldn't be taking paternity leave. Now he's cleared his calendar for two weeks.
On the front page of all the London newspapers this morning: The first official photos, snapped by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney's daughter Mary. One showed the sleeping baby, with the caption "Why Our Prime Minister Can't Bear To Be Away." Another showed Leo clutching his father's finger with the headline "Leo Takes A Firm Grip On Power."
Thirty years ago, a cherubic Mary McCartney starred on the cover of her father's latest album.
Now the baby who followed in her mother's footsteps to become a photographer is an instant overnight celebrity with photos of Prime Minister Tony Blair's baby son Leo.
|Tony and Cherie Blair, and Leo.|
Photo by Mary McCartney.
Mary McCartney spent three hours over the weekend photographing Leo, the first baby to be born to a serving British prime minister for 150 years.
The Blairs, offered six-figure sums by celebrity magazines, instead opted for a 14-picture portfolio by McCartney that could raise up to one million pounds ($1,478,649 U.S.) for cancer charities.
The pictures are natural, relaxed and show the Blairs as typically enraptured parents.
Cherie Blair was deeply moved by the photos of a smiling Linda taken by Mary just weeks before her mother died.
The prime minister's wife, who lost an aunt and a close friend to cancer, immediately bonded with Mary when they met while fundraising for breast cancer research.
Mary delayed her wedding to TV producer Alistair Donald for several months after her mother's death as friends said she wanted to "wait until her dad can smile on her wedding day."
She now has a son of her own, Arthur, who Paul McCartney said "turned the lights back on in my life."
Linda won photographic fame with her revealing shots of pop stars in the Sixties and then built up a business empire with a range of vegetarian foods.
Mary first worked in Linda's studio, cataloguing her mother's vast backlog of photos. Mary poignantly took the pictures for Linda's last vegetarian cookbook just weeks before her mother's death.
It was those shots that so touhed the Blairs.
Mary said: "The Blairs thought it would be nice to use a female photographer for these pictures and I was very flattered to be asked to take them.
"Leo was only 38 hours old when I took the pictures. He's a lovely baby and a gentle little soul."
The prime minister's office Tuesday urged the British media to let the new baby get on with his life in peace.
A spokesman for the prime minister said the Labour leader now wanted to draw a veil of privacy around his fourth child, who was born on Saturday and whose picture was on the front page of every newspaper on Tuesday.
"I hope the media will understand we don't intend to brief on everything to do with him," the spokesman said.
There will be no access to the christening although some nuggets of news -- such as the names of godparents -- may come out in due course.
"They both appreciate the generosity, kindness and warmth shown by so many people," the spokesman said of the Blairs.
But he added that Blair saw the upbringing of his child as essentially a private family matter and wanted to keep it that way.
Until now, Mary's younger sister Stella had always taken the sibling limelight as a Paris fashion designer for Chloe.
But the Blair family photos changed all that for Mary, whose work has appeared in German, Australian and British magazines. She has campaigned, like her mother, against vivisection.
The Blair portfolio was front-page news in the British press on Tuesday -- and her fellow photographers approved.
Royal photographer John Swannell said: "I would be very happy with that if I had taken it. It is a lovely photograph."
Celebrity photographer Richard Young, who has done portraits of Mick Jagger and Phil Collins' babies, said: "I think Mary has done a very nice job on it."