Clare Drakeford, wife of Wales’s first minister, dies

<span>Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images

Clare Drakeford, the wife of Wales’s first minister, Mark Drakeford, has died suddenly, the Welsh government announced on Saturday.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “It is with deep sadness that we confirm the sudden passing of Clare Drakeford, wife of the first minister.

“The thoughts of everyone in the Welsh government are with the family at this time and we ask that their privacy is respected.”

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, said he was “incredibly sad” to hear about Clare Drakeford’s passing.

“I know how committed Mark and Clare were to each other,” Sunak tweeted. “I can’t imagine the pain Mark and his family will now be feeling. My heartfelt condolences go out to them.”

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” to hear of Clare Drakeford’s passing.

“On behalf of the whole Labour party, I send our deepest condolences to Mark and all the family,” he said. “They are all in our thoughts and prayers.”

The Prince and Princess of Wales tweeted: “Sending our thoughts and prayers to Mark Drakeford and his family.”

Others including the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, tweeted their condolences.

Davies said: “My thoughts and prayers are with Mark Drakeford and his family at this exceptionally difficult time. On the occasions I met Clare, she was always a lovely lady and was very warm and kind. I’m shocked and deeply saddened to hear of her passing.”

Elin Jones, presiding officer of the Welsh parliament, tweeted: “As a Senedd we are deeply saddened to learn of Clare Drakeford’s passing. We are holding Mark and his family close to our hearts and send them our deepest condolences, love and support.”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, said his heart is “absolutely breaking” for Wales’s first minister.

“I know how close you were and there are no words to describe the pain you must be feeling,” Price said. “My thoughts are with you and your family. We’re all here for you Mark.”

Responding to the news, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Jane Dodds, said: “My thoughts are with the first minister and his family at this very difficult time.”

Mark and Clare Drakeford married in 1977. They have three children.

Drakeford, who has been the first minister of Wales since 2018, has rarely spoken about his family life but in February 2021, he revealed he had been isolating from his wife for most of 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic in order to keep her and her elderly mother safe while they were shielding.

Drakeford said he had been living in a separate building in the garden of his family home while his wife stayed inside the main home.

Speaking on an ITV Wales podcast, the first minister said: “It is a bit emotional. I’ve been married for a very long time and not to be in the house and to be at a physical distance, even though we saw each other every day and talked every day, it was a puzzling experience in that sort of way and for that to be over it is a bit emotional for everybody.”