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Cherie Blair
"Both Tony and I have been overwhelmed with the public response"
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Monday, 22 November, 1999, 14:19 GMT
Cherie keeps mum over baby
Cherie Blair: "I've got another little one to look forward to"

Cherie Blair kept the media guessing over where her baby was conceived, as she accepted an honorary degree at her first public engagement since the news broke.

The prime minister's wife, who is expecting their fourth child, did not give anything away as she received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Westminster at the Barbican in London.

Every baby is a miracle, and this one was certainly a surprise
Cherie Blair
The QC, who was a part-time lecturer at the university's forerunner the Polytechnic of Central London during the 1970s, was being recognised for her services to the legal profession and to public life.

She smiled as the audience applauded and made a brief speech on the difficulties facing aspiring barristers, particularly women.

Mrs Blair also thanked the university for helping her through the difficult beginnings of her own career.

She was equally inscrutible as she met schoolchildren for the first performance at the new Royal Opera House building in the capital's Covent Garden.

But watching a children's gala by the Royal Ballet prompted her to speak of her delight at her pregnancy.

She said: "When I accepted the invitation and the chance to see young people performing and watching, I looked on it with a sort of nostalgia.

Reports suggested the baby was conceived during the Blairs' holiday
"Now I look at it not only with nostalgia, but also with anticipation, and the fact that I've got another little one to look forward to.

"Tony and I have been overwhelmed with the response. Every baby is a miracle, and this one was certainly a surprise."

Downing Street has refused to be drawn on suggestions the Blairs' unborn child may have been conceived while the couple were staying with the Queen at Balmoral.

Last week there was speculation it had been conceived in Tuscany during the couple's summer holiday.

But Mr Blair's assertion that the baby was "probably British" led to claims it may have happened when they spent a night at the royal residence during the traditional prime ministerial visit in September.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "People speculate. They are doing so without knowledge. It is nobody's business but theirs."

Italy's disappointment

Tony Blair said on Sunday the baby was almost certainly not conceived during the couple's summer holiday in France and Italy.

The couple found themselves the centre of international attention at a gathering of centre-left leaders in Florence following the surprise news that they were expecting their fourth child.

The news came as a big disappointment in Italy where the press had taken great delight in suggestions the "bambino" may have been conceived during the Blair's stay in Tuscany.

Even the Italian President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, had joked at the opening at the opening gala dinner that Europe's birth rate was falling "despite Tony's efforts".

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See also:
19 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Conceived by a spin doctor?
19 Nov 99 |  UK
Cherie: Lawyer, wife and mum
19 Nov 99 |  Health
Pregnancy risks increase with age
19 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Baby cynics question timing
19 Nov 99 |  UK
Cherie to join the 40-something mums
22 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Cherie lifts curtains on Opera House

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