British prime ministers on holiday - in pictures

Rishi Sunak enjoyed the Californian sun while Thatcher was said to favour the slopes of Switzerland – if she went away at all

Rishi Sunak and family on holiday
(Image credit: Emma McIntyre /AFP via Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak is back at his desk after a summer holiday in sunny California, visiting Disneyland and spending time on the beach.

Ahead of his “first proper break in four years”, the prime minister had “said he was personally very excited about the trip to Disneyland because he is a Star Wars fan”, reported The Telegraph.

California is a “natural choice” for Sunak, said the London Evening Standard, as the PM studied at Stanford University before going on to work at a Californian hedge fund.

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Travelling with his wife, Akshata Murty, and two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka, Sunak posed for photographs on the famous Santa Monica pier, where the family played funfair games.

Prime ministerial holiday photo shoots have become something of an unofficial tradition in recent decades; although some appear more stage-managed than others.

Boris Johnson earned a reputation as a sun-seeker, jetting off to Slovenia, Spain, Greece and the Caribbean island of Mustique, to name just a few of his excursions. However, it was shots of the PM hiking in Scotland, with baby Wilfred and dog Dilyn, that his partner Carrie chose to share on her Instagram page during his tenure.

Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, was known for her love of hiking, but pictures of her holidays failed to capture the tabloids’ imagination.

Theresa May Lake Garda

(Image credit: Pier Marco Tacca - Pool /Getty Images)

Snaps of the PM and her husband, Philip, strolling around Italy’s Lake Garda in 2018 were described as “even more boring than the mutual recognition of goods standards post-Brexit” by the Daily Mirror’s political reporter Dan Bloom, at a time when Brexit negotiations were still in deadlock. He called photos of the couple “more anodyne” than the walk she took the year before in the same spot. “Not wanting to disappoint her fans, this time the PM threw in a couple of hand gestures,” Bloom added.

A previous photograph of the PM on holiday in Switzerland in 2016 was also described by the Mirror as “one of the most tedious images in political history”.

Theresa and Philip May

(Image credit: Marco Bertorello - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Images of David Cameron on holiday were certainly more entertaining, but often because of the efforts to make the stage-managed shots look as natural as possible.

Here, he and Samantha Cameron sit at a cafe in Montevarchi near Siena, Italy, in 2011.

David Cameron

(Image credit: Lorenzo Galassi - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

And here, they casually point at fish at a market in Aljezur, Portugal, in 2013.

David Cameron

(Image credit: Armando Franca, - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Below, Tony Blair holds his son Leo after mass at a church in Venerque, France. Blair, his wife Cherie and their family were on a trip in nearby Le Vernet in 2002.

Tony Blair

(Image credit: Giloustan/Getty Images)

Margaret Thatcher reportedly favoured Switzerland, although she apparently found holidays tiresome to organise and said they got in the way of her work. The former Tory prime minister is pictured below skiing near Zurich in 1962.

Margaret Thatcher

(Image credit: Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“For Margaret Thatcher, it seems, downtime was not an option,” said the Financial Times following her death in 2013. Her few holidays were always packed with appointments and meetings.

Harold Wilson

(Image credit: Peter King/Fox Photos/Getty Image)

On the other hand, Harold Wilson – the first PM to show his knees – used his holiday snaps to “reinforce the idea of himself as the first demotic prime minister”, said The Guardian, “happy to show himself off to photographers in shorts and sandals, eating ice cream, strolling on the beach, holding alfresco press conferences in the sand dunes”.

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