Clare Drakeford, the wife of Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford, has died suddenly.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Welsh government said: “It is with deep sadness that we confirm the sudden passing of Clare Drakeford, reportedly 66, 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 Prince and Princess of Wales tweeted: “Sending our thoughts and prayers to Mark Drakeford and his family. W & C”
Rishi Sunak sent his “heartfelt condolences” to Mark Drakeford and his family.
The Prime Minister tweeted: “Incredibly sad to hear about the sudden death of Clare Drakeford.
“I know how committed Mark and Clare were to each other. I can’t imagine the pain Mark and his family will now be feeling.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to them.”
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, responding to the news in a post on Twitter, said she was sending her Welsh counterpart “love and strength”.
“My thoughts are with Mark and his family at this terribly sad time,” Ms Sturgeon tweeted.
“On the occasions I met Clare, it was obvious how strong the bond between her and Mark was, and I can only imagine the depth of grief he is feeling.”
Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT 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.”
Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, said his heart was “absolutely breaking” for Mr Drakeford, who is also the leader of Welsh Labour, while Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: “I extend our deepest condolences to Mark, his family and friends.”
Downing Street said that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had passed on his deepest condolences to Mr Drakeford privately.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also sent his and his party’s condolences, saying: “I know just how close they were as a couple, and I can only imagine the sense of loss Mark and the whole family are feeling.
“They are all in our thoughts and prayers.”
Mr Drakeford and his wife married in 1977 and have three children together.
The family have lived in the Pontcanna area of Cardiff for 30 years.
The couple lived apart during much of the COVID pandemic, with Mr Drakeford staying in a building at the end of the couple’s garden to allow him to carry on work while his wife remained at the house with his elderly mother-in-law, who was shielding.
Mr Drakeford, who became first minister in 2018 and was reappointed to the post in May 2021, later described their reunion as “a bit emotional”.
Speaking to the ITV Wales podcast in August 2021, he said: “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.”