How ‘Mean Streets’ Made U.K. Premier David Cameron a Married Man

David Cameron and His Wife
David Cameron, U.K. Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Conservative Party, right, and his wife Samantha Cameron. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron persuaded his wife to marry him while watching a Robert De Niro movie set in the criminal underworld of 1970s New York.

“It was rather an odd proposal,” Cameron said in an interview with the Classic FM radio station to be broadcast Monday evening. “We were lying on the sofa watching a movie. I don’t know why I was...you know there had been lots of other opportunities for the romantic proposal and I’d...sort of my nerves had failed me,” he said.

He then proposed while they were watching “Mean Streets,” a 1973 film based in and around the tough neighborhoods of New York’s Little Italy.

Samantha Cameron is a businesswoman who met Cameron through his sister in the 1990s, when the Conservative leader was a young adviser in John Major’s government. “When I first proposed she didn’t absolutely leap at it,” Cameron will say. “But anyway, luckily she said yes.” The pair married in 1996.

With the U.K. general election 11 days away polls indicate that Cameron and Ed Miliband, the Labour opposition leader, are locked in a neck-and-neck fight with neither likely to win outright. Cameron is banking on his personal ratings, higher than Miliband’s, to help him remain prime minister after May 7.

“I do cry in films actually,” he told Classic FM. “The Sound of Music, I mean if I watch it -- I mean I watch that most Christmases or New Year when it comes around -- and soon as we get on Edelweiss I’m reaching for the Kleenex.”

Rose Garden

Cameron also said that a former university tutor wrote him letters appraising aspects of his five-year stint in 10 Downing Street, his official central London residence. “It’s almost like he’s marking your essay,” Cameron will say.

Cameron, who like Miliband studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, was taught politics by Vernon Bogdanor, who wrote him a letter after Cameron’s government was defeated in a parliamentary vote to authorize military action in Syria in 2013.

“He thought that I needed to do more work as a teacher, as a politician, and he’s absolutely right,” Cameron told an audience at Brasenose College later that year. He is also advised by his former economics tutor, Peter Sinclair. “He still tells me why the labour market isn’t clearing properly, and what I need to do,” Cameron said then.

“A lot of people thought this government wouldn’t last. They looked at the rose garden,” where Cameron gave his government’s first press conference alongside his junior coalition partner Nick Clegg, “and they thought, well that’s interesting for a photo opportunity but it’ll all be over in six months,” Cameron will say on Classic FM. “And actually we have worked hard. We’ve made the coalition deliver and work.”

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