LONDON — At 10 Downing Street, a rare appearance by ailing former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was postponed.
And at the House of Commons, even the weekly heckling session was canceled.
On Wednesday, Britain came together in mourning over the death of a 6-year-old, the son of opposition leader David Cameron, who died suddenly after a lifelong struggle with cerebral palsy and a rare epileptic disorder.
Ivan Cameron was the eldest of the three children of the affable Cameron and his wife, Samantha. The death produced an outpouring of public condolence and led to a suspension of politics-as-usual out of respect for the Conservative Party head, whom opinion polls show to be Britain's likely next prime minister.
The death resonated with the man he is trying to replace, Gordon Brown, whose daughter died of a brain hemorrhage just 10 days after her birth in 2001. The prime minister and his wife, Sarah, also have a son suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Ivan Cameron's illness has not been without impact on his father's politics. The Tory party leader has spoken movingly on several occasions in the past about caring for his disabled son and how it had increased his appreciation of Britain's publicly funded National Health System. His willingness to address Ivan's health added a softer element to a Tory agenda grounded in staples such as law and order and immigration.
Through a spokesman, Cameron on Wednesday asked that his family be given time and space to grieve privately. Ivan suffered from Ohtahara syndrome, a severe and rare form of epilepsy that left him unable to walk, speak or feed himself and subject to frequent seizures. Ivan fell ill Tuesday night and was brought to a London hospital, where he died hours later.