'He's My Best Friend': Heartbroken Blanche d'Alpuget On Bob Hawke's Passing

In the coming days, Blanche d'Alpuget will farewell her husband of over 20 years at a private funeral with his children. 

She faced the heavy task on Thursday evening of telling the Australian people the nation's 23rd Prime Minister had died -- peacefully, at his home, at the age of 89.

Bob Hawke was described by his wife as a "great Australian."

PHOTO: Getty Images

"Many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era," a statement issued by d'Alpuget said.

She described her husband's achievements as Labor leader, of modernising the Australian economy, of recession-free economic growth and job creation, of bringing together the trade union movement, of increasing social wage through Medicare and of his role in increasing the proportion of children finishing high school.

Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Bob Hawke at the Opening Ceremony for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. PHOTO: Getty Images

But it was the personal message of his family's heartbreak in the wake of his death, that will be remembered most.

"Bob was dearly loved by his family, and so many friends and colleagues," she wrote.

"We will miss him."

READ MORE: 'Our Greatest Son': Australia Mourns Labor Icon Bob Hawke

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READ MORE: Labor Icon Bob Hawke Dies Age 89

PHOTO: Getty Images

Hawke and d'Alpuget were married for more than 20 years. Though the pair were inseparable in their later years, their courtship and marriage was a scandal in the Australian tabloid for years -- after Hawke divorced first wife, Hazel, after 40 years of marriage.

In an interview together several years ago, d'Alpuget -- who was Hawke's long-time mistress before their marriage -- said she knew that in the eyes of many she would go to her grave as a scarlet woman.

PHOTO: Getty Images

"When I'm dead and when Bob is dead, what people will remember is the love story," she said.

In the same interview, Hawke simply described himself as a "lucky man".

PHOTO: Getty Images

Last year, d'Alpuget said her husband had no fear of death, and that the pair had talked about his passing and funeral arrangements for a while.

Talking to the ABC's Leigh Sales, she said overtime their love had become more mellow, but sweeter.

"A day wouldn't go past where we don't say to each other at least once a day, I love you," she said at the time.

"I suppose, yes, I suppose if that's work, it takes work, but I find myself thinking about him all the time."

Asked how she imagines she would go on if her husband were to pass away before her, d'Alpuget broke down.

"With difficulty, Leigh, with difficulty," she said.

'He's my best friend."