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Wife will seek to stay out of the limelight

Sarah Brown with her husband after launching his leadership campaign at The Imagination Gallery
Sarah Brown with her husband after launching his leadership campaign at The Imagination Gallery

The security surrounding Sarah Brown, the wife of the Chancellor, is being reviewed in the run-up to her husband's expected confirmation as Prime Minister next month.

Cherie Blair has had her own police protection officers since December 2001 after a security assessment following the September 11 attacks.

It was the first time in 20 years that armed bodyguards were specifically assigned to protect a prime minister's family. In 1980 Sir Denis and Mark Thatcher were given bodyguards during the IRA hunger strikes.

Now Mrs Brown, who will find the invitations to functions piling up, will also be under pressure to accept her own team.

Mrs Brown, unlike Mrs Blair, rarely appears at public events with her husband and until recently even missed his Budget speeches. She intends to remain out of the limelight as much as possible but accepts that her life will change when she moves into 10 Downing Street.

The Chancellor met the then Sarah Macaulay when her public relations company was advising the Labour-supporting New Statesman magazine, in 1994. Their relationship blossomed alongside Labour's electoral success.

They were married in a private ceremony in Mr Brown's constituency home in Fife in 2000.

Since then Mrs Brown has never given a magazine or tele-vision interview but is now inundated with requests to break her silence. She is unlikely to do so.

The couple are fiercely protective of their young sons John, born in 2003, and James Fraser, who has cystic fibrosis, who was born last year. The only time the boys have been photographed publicly was when they first left hospital.

Mr Brown still retains strong links with Kirkcaldy, where he was brought up. Politics stirred in his veins as a youngster. By the age of 12, he had already helped with the local Labour candidate's unsuccessful general election campaign against Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

He was a star pupil at Kirkcaldy High School and was placed in a project that fast-tracked him into university in Edinburgh at the age of 16. The economist Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations, is also an old boy. When Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, accepted an invitation from Mr Brown to speak at the school, he said that any town that produced both Smith and Brown must have some form of "subliminal intellect-enhancing emanations".

Mr Brown now lives a short distance away in a Victorian brick villa in North Queensferry, close to the bridges over the Forth.

Mr Brown's father, John, was a Church of Scotland minister for 40 years. He was a strong influence and died in 1998, aged 84. His mother Elizabeth, known as Bunty, died in 2004 aged 86. The Chancellor has two brothers, John, who was public relations chief for Glasgow city council and Andrew, who is head of media for EDF Energy.

The Iron Chancellor has softened only occasionally in front of the cameras. Last year he spoke movingly about the death of the couple's daughter, Jennifer, who died in hospital in January in 2002 after only 10 days.

He described how he could not listen to music for almost a year as he struggled to come to terms with the death. He seemed uncomfortable giving the interview. As he moves into office he will face ever more demands for interviews about his home and family life.

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