New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern’s ‘first gent’ on his ‘surreal’ new life


New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern's 'first gent' on his 'surreal' new life

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Clarke Gayford, Jacinda Arden's partner, intends to "keep life as normal as possible"

The partner of New Zealand's new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said his life has become "surreal" since she took office last month.

Clarke Gayford is known in the country's press as the "first gent".

He said he "was shaking uncontrollably" as September's election results came in, and wrote about the couple's cat nearly derailing Ms Ardern's first call with US President Donald Trump.

Ms Ardern, of the Labour party, is the country's youngest female leader.

At 37 she is its youngest prime minister since 1856.

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Writing for New Zealand's The Spinoff, Mr Gayford – who presents a TV show about fishing – said that his style has changed as a result of his partner taking office.

"It's hard not to notice when your partner suddenly has three suited, handsome, well-trained (and groomed) men following her every move… I didn't even own a proper suit, although I have since remedied this," he said.

He said his partner ordered a takeaway curry on their first night in the prime minister's residence, but it never arrived because "they had assumed it was a prank call".

Referring to the uncertainty surrounding Ms Arden's ascent, "With no prior heads-up, we all learnt our fate along with the rest of [the country] via television that evening," the television presenter said.

"I tried to document the moment on camera but the adrenaline flowed so freely that I was shaking uncontrollably."

Image copyright Clarke Gayford via Twitter
Image caption Jacinda Arden's cat, Paddles, almost interrupted the new prime minister's phone call with Donald Trump
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He said that Ms Arden's first call with US President Trump was nearly interrupted by their cat.

Paddles "leapt up on the chair next to Jacinda and began announcing her very squawky arrival".

The cat has now become an international sensation. "A friend has just sent me an article about my cat in a Danish newspaper," Mr Gayford wrote.

And a colleague turned up to the moment wearing jandals – that's a New Zealand word for what are known as flip flops in the UK, and thongs in Australia.

Despite the fact that his partner is now the prime minister, Mr Gayford intends to "keep life as normal as possible for us both", although he said recent weeks have been "surreal".

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Media captionJacinda Ardern becomes New Zealand's youngest female leader

How have other male 'first partners' been perceived?

Earlier on this year, the partner of Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Bettel, was omitted from an official photograph of the spouses of Nato leaders at a summit in Brussels.

The former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard was asked by a radio presenter if her hairdresser partner was gay.

Joachim Sauer, Angela Merkel's husband, is a quantum chemistry professor and makes few public appearances.

Philip May, the husband of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, is an investment manager. He has often avoided making public statements, but he did accompany her for a joint interview on The One Show during the 2017 general election.

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