In our era of personalised politics, creating a formal office for a leader’s consort would be a recognition of the unique demands on the power behind the throne

In an early series of House of Cards, the long-running Netflix presidential drama, Claire Underwood – the future US first lady – articulates the essential dilemma of the modern political spouse, of a woman who has her own life and her own ambitions. “We used to make each other stronger,” she says with her hallmark savagery. “At least I thought so, but that was a lie. We were making you stronger.” Later there was an equally poignant description of the hypocrisy of the political partnership. “I should have never made you ambassador,” Frank says to his wife. “I should’ve never made you president,” Claire retorts.

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