The wife of Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford has died suddenly, the Welsh Government said.
A spokesman 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.”
Mr Drakeford became First Minister of Wales in 2018 and was reappointed to the post in May 2021.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Drakeford moved into a building in his garden to protect his wife and mother-in-law, who he said had been shielding.
He told the PA news agency in February 2021 how they were in the top four priority groups for vaccination “due to their conditions”.
Mr Drakeford added at the time: “I’m hugely grateful, because they’re both vulnerable. And although they’ve been incredibly careful and don’t do anything that puts them at risk, the fact they’ve had the vaccine is a relief.”
The family has lived in the Pontcanna area of Cardiff for 30 years.
Mr Drakeford and his wife, who were married in 1977, have three adult children together.
Politicians and others across the country expressed their sympathies for Mr Drakeford and his family following news of Mrs Drakeford’s death.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sent his “heartfelt condolences” to the Drakeford family.
He wrote on Twitter: “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.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the news.
“On behalf of the whole Labour Party, I send our deepest condolences to Mark and all the family,” he said in a statement.
“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.”
The Prince and Princess of Wales said they were “sending our thoughts and prayers to Mark Drakeford and his family”.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said she was sending Mr Drakeford “love and strength” following the news.
“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. Sending him love and strength.”
Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies sent his thoughts and prayers to Mr Drakeford and his family.
“Absolutely devastating news to learn of Clare Drakeford’s passing. My thoughts and prayers go out to Mark Drakeford and his family during this incredibly difficult time,” he tweeted.
Elin Jones, the presiding officer of the Senedd, said: “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.”
Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, 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.
“On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I send my deepest condolences to the Prif Weinidog (First Minister) after the sudden death of his wife Clare Drakeford,” Mr Price said.
“I know how close Mark and Clare were and can only imagine the pain he must be feeling. My thoughts are with the whole family at this difficult time.”
Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: “My heartfelt sympathies go out to the First Minister at this very difficult time.
“On behalf of everyone in the Welsh Liberal Democrats, I extend our deepest condolences to Mark, his family and friends.”
Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown said: “I am so sorry to hear of the sudden death of Clare Drakeford.”
“She will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with Mark and all the Drakeford family.”
Jo Stevens, Labour MP for Cardiff Central, said: “So shocked and so very sad at the news of Clare Drakeford’s death.
“The thoughts and sympathy of all us in Cardiff Central Labour Party and across the Welsh Parliamentary Labour Party are with Mark and his family.”