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Philip May: The banker husband and Theresa's 'real rock'

University sweethearts Philip and Theresa May have faced personal tragedies amid their public triumphs. Credit: PA

Standing beside his wife of 35 years, Philip May responded to photographers' calls as he stepped in to plant a kiss on her cheek.

The embrace outside the St Stephen's entrance of Parliament drew cheers from the crowd of MPs as Theresa May delivered her victory speech in London only hours after officially launching her campaign to lead the country in Birmingham.

Andrea Leadsom's surprise withdrawal confirmed the long-time Home Secretary as David Cameron's successor as Conservative leader and Prime Minister, sending the Mays into the glare of the Number 10 spotlight months earlier than they would have planned.

The 'new Denis' is a 'real rock'

While comparisons were immediately drawn between Mrs May and Britain's first female prime minister, the career banker at her side was hailed as the new Denis Thatcher, Margaret's right-hand man.

Mr May has been described as a "real rock" by his wife through her political triumphs and personal tragedies.

Famous introduction

The pair had a future prime minister to thank after meeting at a Conservative party disco at Oxford University in 1976.

The Mays have a reported shared love of cricket. Credit: PA

Benazir Bhutto, who would go on to lead Pakistan before her assassination in 2007, introduced the final year geography student Theresa Brasier to the first year modern history student Philip John May, two academic years below her but just under a year apart in age.

Both married at 23

While she headed off to the Bank of England, her future financier boyfriend became Oxford Union president and ended student newspaper speculation on their future by eventually asking the vicar's daughter for her hand in marriage.

Ms Brasier became Mrs May in September 1980 with the couple, both aged 23, wed at her father's Oxfordshire church.

Private tragedies

A year into the marriage, May faced the twin tragedies of losing both her parents in the space of a few months.

Her father Rev Hubert Brasier was shockingly killed in a car crash and her wheelchair-bound mother Zaidee died after battling multiple sclerosis.

Theresa May has spoken briefly about the couple's private life in interviews as she prepared for British politics' highest office. Credit: PA

Orphaned at 25, she later said Philip offered "huge support," adding: "That was very important for me. He was a real rock for me.”

The couple faced more hardship years later after discovering they were unable to have children.

Mrs May addressed the matter only briefly in public, saying: "Of course, we were both affected by it."

Career in the City

The private difficulties came as both their working lives brought public successes.

While May made her mark in politics, Philip embarked on a career in the City of London, first as a fund manager at stockbroker de Zoete & Bevan and then at Prudential Portfolio Managers UK, which was formed in the early 1980s to manage Prudential's investments.

Philip May is used to media interest after appearing at his wife's side at a number of public events during her political career. Credit: PA

He moved on to investment management giant Capital Group in 2005, where he remains to this day, working as a relationship manager.

Thrust into public life

A brief stint as chairman of the Wimbledon Conservative Association was as close as the former Oxford debater got to politics.

But his wife's ascension to Downing Street means he will now play one of the most prominent roles in public life.

Businessman Denis Thatcher, who died in 2003, earned a reputation for steadfastly supporting Britain's first female prime minister. Credit: PA

He follows the likes of Denis Thatcher, Norma Major, Cherie Blair, Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron as the other half of the most powerful politician in the country.

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