Thursday, 13 May 2010

Cameron and Clegg: A very British “civil partnership”

It’s funny how British commentators refer to Lib Dems + Conservatives coalition government deal (Nick Clegg + David Cameron) as a “marriage”, or “civil partnership”. [gay marriages in form of civil partnerships became legal in the UK since December 2005] Then some of them remind that 50% of marriages end up in divorce :) This is a very real not so honeymoon-y perspective for this newly formed "power couple". Yes, they say opposites attract, but there is truly an ocean between Clegg and Cameron, or is there?

But the most entertaining discovery for me was that Lib Dems leader Nick Clegg has Russian aristocratic roots.

Wikipedia: "Clegg's paternal grandmother, Kira von Engelhardt, was a Russian Baroness whose German-Russian aristocratic family fled the Bolsheviks after the 1917 Russian Revolution. Clegg's paternal grandfather, Hugh Anthony Clegg, was the editor of the British Medical Journal for 35 years. Clegg's great-great-grandfather, the Russian nobleman Ignaty Zakrevsky, was attorney general of the imperial Russian senate. His great-great aunt was the writer, Baroness Moura Budberg.

Clegg's Dutch mother, Hermance van den Wall Bake, was, along with her family, interned by the Japanese in Batavia (Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies. She met Clegg's father during a visit to England in 1956, and they married on 1 August 1959.

Clegg is multilingual: he speaks English, Dutch, French, German, and Spanish. His background has informed his politics. He says, "There is simply not a shred of racism in me, as a person whose whole family is formed by flight from persecution, from different people in different generations. It’s what I am. It’s one of the reasons I am a liberal." His Dutch mother instilled in him "a degree of scepticism about the entrenched class configurations in British society".

His wife - Miriam González Durántez, is Spanish. Wikipedia: "They dated for several years in Brussels before they decided to marry. They married in 2000 and have three young children: Antonio, Alberto and Miguel. She insisted on Spanish names if they were to have the family name "Clegg." She is Roman Catholic, and together with her husband they agreed that their children will be raised as such, though her husband has said he does not believe in God."

*picture - by Number 10

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