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Saturday, 20 May, 2000, 02:28 GMT 03:28 UK
Secret lives: The Blair children
Blairs and the Prodis
Camera shy: The Blairs in Tuscany last August
Little is known about Tony and Cherie Blairs' three older children, and the family likes it that way.

The couple have been fiercely protective of the young ones' privacy and that is likely to extend to the new baby.

In addition to their new boy, the couple have two sons - Euan, 16, and Nicky, 14 - and a daughter, Kathryn, 12.

Before moving into Downing Street in 1997, the Blairs vowed to bring up their children in as normal an environment as possible. This has largely meant shielding them from the prying interest of the media.

Tony and Cherie keep mum about their children

They have been true to their word. The Blairs have not shied from taking action against alleged intrusions, issuing complaints as and when they come up against "intrusive" journalism.

The most memorable occasion was in March, when Mrs Blair issued an injunction against the Mail on Sunday, after it published extracts from the memoirs of former Blair nanny Ros Mark.

Despite living in central London, the Blair brood all travel west for their schooling. The boys attend the London Oratory in Fulham, where Euan is studying for his GSCE exams. Kathryn is a student at the Sacred Heart comprehensive high school in nearby Hammersmith.

The schools are several miles from the family's local catchment area for state schools, something that has sparked attacks by opposition MPs and local parents alike.

Friends of the family have said Cherie Blair's own strict Catholic education moulded a mother who expects her children to always be polite and well dressed.

In what has been described as a rare argument, the children disagreed over the sex of their new sibling - the boys wanted a new brother, but Kathryn echoed her mother's desire for a little girl.

A life more ordinary

So far, the Blairs' efforts to maintain a balanced family life appear to have been reasonably successful.

In December, Euan was photographed at a London nightclub indulging in that most teenage of activities - kissing a girl.

The Press Complaints Commission rapped the Daily Sport over the knuckles for publishing pictures of the kiss following a complaint by the Blairs.

And although Euan suffered minor cuts and bruises after being set upon by bullies after school in March 1998, police said the thugs did not know they were attacking the prime minister's son.

At weekends and during school holidays, the family often retreat to Chequers, the prime minister's official residence in Buckinghamshire.

Surrounded by extensive grounds, which keep prying lenses well away, the countryside retreat affords the Blairs the privacy they crave.

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See also:

22 Dec 99 | UK Politics
Blair plans press complaint
24 Jan 99 | UK Politics
Blairs angry over school story
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