UK First Lady Akshata Murty reveals cat & dog fights at Downing Street

PTI, Sep 22, 2023, 7:58 PM IST

Credit: Number 10, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

London: Akshata Murty, the Indian wife of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on Friday shared some insights into life at 10 Downing Street as she revealed “heated exchanges” between the family dog and the resident cat on the world-famous street.

In a rare interview for the ‘FYI: Weekly News Show’ to be aired on Sky Kids channel over the weekend, the 43-year-old businesswoman told schoolchildren that she feels “lucky” to be living in a building associated with prime ministers for hundreds of years.

However, the family’s Labrador retriever Nova may have mixed emotions about the residence as he gets challenged by the historic street’s long-term resident – Larry the cat.

“I feel lucky, so grateful and so honoured to live here,” said Murty in an interview filmed in the garden of No. 10 Downing Street.

“This building has been in use by the office of the Prime Minister for over 275 years, a very long time. And, to be able to live and have a sneak peek, in a way, of this historical place, I feel really lucky,” said Murty, the daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy and author Sudha Murty, “You saw our dog earlier, Nova has mixed emotions; she sometimes doesn’t get on with Larry the cat and they’ve had some heated exchanges and Larry’s come out on top; our family is so grateful to be here,” she shared with the kids’ show interviewers.

Larry, referred to as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office for its role in keeping mice at bay, has resided at Number 10 for 12 years and served five Conservative Prime Ministers – David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and now Rishi Sunak.

The cat’s altercations with pets of the resident families on the street, which also houses the Chancellor’s office at Number 11, have been well documented over the years and also inspired several spoof social media accounts.

Asked by the kids what it was like to be the wife of a Prime Minister, Murty said: ”You know, I’ve had a busy life before. I have a busy life now.

”I think what’s been incredible is the range of opportunities that I’ve been exposed to… meeting really interesting people.” She also spoke of an initiative she introduced since moving into Downing Street in October last year called “Lessons at 10″, which invites children from across the UK to the Prime Minister’s residence to learn about the building’s history and the role of government.

”Through the ‘Lessons at 10’ programme, meeting lots of young people every Friday, I really enjoy that and so for me, I look at it (being the Prime Minister’s wife) as a very special time in my life to help support my husband in the job he’s doing while opening up the doors to young people,” she said.

Murty married Sunak in 2009 after they met at Stanford University in California.

The couple have two daughters, Krishna, 12, and Anoushka, 10, and divide their time between Downing Street and Sunak’s northern England constituency home in Richmond, Yorkshire.

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