The Prime Minister’s wife, Samantha Cameron, has revealed how the couple’s strain in coping with their disabled son, who later died, had brought them to “breaking point”.
Mrs Cameron said she and David were left physically and mentally shattered by the struggle of looking after their son Ivan, who had cerebral palsy and suffered from sever epileptic fits.
He died aged six in 2009.
However, managing to work together through the illness ultimately made their marriage stronger. She spoke emotionally about the effects on their relationship during an interview at the weekend.
Mrs Cameron, in a bid to support the PM’s fight to win five more years in No10, also said his fear was “letting people down”.
She claimed, albeit from an obviously biased standpoint, that he was the best man for the job of running the country because he was “even-tempered, clear-headed and not scared of making hard decisions”. It is the latest in a series of interventions by the spouses of party leaders.
Once described by former Tory spin doctor Andy Coulson as the Prime Minister’s “best weapon”, Mrs Cameron recently spoke of “desperately” wanting her husband to triumph.
She revealed the couple’s Christian faith helped them cope with their son’s illness and death. She said Ivan made their love stronger and brought them immense joy, adding: “There’s lots of people in our situation whose marriages don’t survive.
“Looking after a disabled child pushes you to the limits of what you can cope with physically, emotionally. By the end of the first year, we were totally shattered and pretty much at breaking point.
“The doctors realised we needed help. But as parents, you have this feeling that you shouldn’t ask for help.
“We could have been angry with God, but we felt he’d given Ivan to us to look after, and we had to do the best job that we could. He was very beautiful, one of the great gifts in our lives.”
Mrs Cameron also gave an insight into some more unusual aspects of life as the UK’s “first lady”. These included being forced to leave dinner with Angela Merkel to break up a “huge pillow and duvet fight” between her children at the German chancellor’s country residence.
Regarding her husband’s job, Mrs Cameron said: “He’s turned the economy round and created a safe environment for everyone. The thing that worries him most is letting people down.”
Speaking about the 2013 incident at Ms Merkel’s “schloss” near Berlin, she said: “No one could get them to calm down, so there were some very firm words from me.”
Daughter Nancy, 11, regularly jokes about penning a memoir about life as the PM’s child. Mrs Cameron said: “She’s always, like, ‘I’m on Chapter Five of Daddy, How Your Life as Prime Minister’s Affected Me. Chapter Two is when you left me in the pub’.”