The man who became the UK’s 57th prime minister last October is richer than the King and, at forty-two, younger than every predecessor except William Pitt the Younger (who entered office in 1801 aged forty-one.) Rishi Sunak will also be the UK’s first ever person of colour to lead the country, and first Hindu prime minister.
Sunak was born in Southampton in 1980 to Indian parents who had moved to the UK from east Africa. His father was a GP and his mother ran her own pharmacy. The eldest of three children, Sunak was educated at a private boarding school, Winchester College, which costs £43,335 a year to attend. He was head boy, and has in recent years made multiple donations of over £100,000 to the school.
Sunak went on to study politics, philosophy and economics at the University of Oxford, like so, so, so many before him. He was awarded a first-class degree. He later gained a master’s of business administration (MBA) at Stanford University, where he met Akshata Murty, his future wife, but where few others remember him.
Murty, forty-two, is the daughter of the Indian billionaire N. R. Narayana Murthy, often described as the Bill Gates of India, who founded the software company Infosys. According to reports, his daughter has a 0.91 per cent stake in the company, worth about £700m.
The couple married in her home town of Bengaluru in a two-day ceremony in 2009 attended by one thousand guests. They have two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka. In April this year it emerged that Murty was a non-domiciled UK resident, meaning she avoided UK taxes on her international earnings in return for paying an annual charge of £30,000.
Without that non-domiciled status she could have been liable for more than £20m of UK taxes on these windfalls, it was reported. After a public outcry, her spokesperson announced she would start paying UK taxes on her overseas earnings to relieve political pressure on her husband.
Still, Sunak and Murty’s combined fortune is estimated to be £730m, double the estimated £300m-£350m wealth of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort. They own four properties spread across the world and valued at more than £15m.
Sunak has gone from MP to prime minister in just seven years — faster than any other PM in the modern era. David Cameron achieved the same in nine years, but again, Pitt the Younger holds the overall record with just two years.
Sunak’s path to the top wasn’t all smooth. After losing to Liz Truss in a vote of Tory members on 5 September, he was expected to disappear from politics — and quickly did, last speaking in the Commons the day after Truss became PM. But when Truss’s disastrous and unfunded tax cuts brought her down in flames, Sunak was ready with the backing of supporters he had gathered over the summer campaign.
After winning the leadership, Sunak, whose career has been defined by fiscal conservatism, told MPs his ambition was to have a “highly productive UK economy” and that he backed low taxation but that it had to be affordable and deliverable.
Sunak “collects Coca-Cola things”, as he told two school pupils, before saying “I am a Coke addict, I am a total Coke addict,” then, as the pupils sniggered, clarifying “Coca-Cola addict, just for the record”. He once tried to pay for a Coke at a petrol station, but was confused by the contactless credit card system.
Speaking in Tunbridge Wells, Sunak once boasted that he had changed Labour party policies “which shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas” so that funding could go to wealthy towns instead. As a student, he told documentary makers that he had friends who are aristocrats, friends who are upper class and friends who are working class before remembering: “Well, not working class.”