Richer than a king: Inside the $1.1B fortune of Rishi Sunak, the U.K.’s new prime minister

Click to play video: 'Sunak sworn in as Britain’s PM, vows to tackle ‘profound economic crisis’'
Sunak sworn in as Britain’s PM, vows to tackle ‘profound economic crisis’
WATCH: On the first day in his new role, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is vowing to fix the political and economic crises he's inherited. Eric Sorensen reports – Oct 25, 2022

Rishi Sunak, the U.K.’s new prime minister, is turning heads for a number of reasons. He’s England’s first prime minister of colour, its third head of government in less than two months and he’s also now the youngest world leader in the G20 at just 42 years old. And to add to that impressive resumé, he’s one of the wealthiest people in Britain.

Sunak is so rich that he left the Guardian wondering if he’s actually too rich to be prime minister. He’s so rich that, for the first time in history, the occupants of 10 Downing St. will be richer than those of Buckingham Palace.

Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs banker and hedge fund manager, and his wife, Indian heiress Akshata Murty, have a combined fortune of around 730 million pounds, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, which ranks him as the 222nd wealthiest person in the U.K. By Canadian standards, Sunak is a billionaire, with his wealth converting to around $1.13 billion.

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By comparison, King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, have a combined net worth of between 300 to 350 million pounds, which is around $465 to 540 million, according to the Guardian. Before her passing, the Sunday Times estimated the queen had a fortune of 370 million pounds, or about $575 million.

That means that Sunak is worth more than the queen and the King combined.

The majority of Sunak’s wealth came through his 2009 marriage to Murty, with whom he has two daughters. The tech heiress owns a 700-million pound stake in her father’s IT company, Infosys, according to the BBC. Murty’s father Narayana is one of India’s best-known businessmen and has been dubbed “the Bill Gates of India.”

Earlier this year, Sunak and his wife came under the microscope when it was discovered she was filing her taxes as a “non-domiciled” resident, despite living in Downing Street apartments. The tax loophole allowed her to avoid paying British taxes on her substantial foreign income, which is around 11.6 million pounds ($18 million) in annual dividends from Infosys, though Murty announced she would stop the practice.

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The couple owns at least three homes in Britain, including a five-bedroom house in west London and a Georgian manor in North Yorkshire, as well as a US$6-million property in Santa Monica, Calif.

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In the coming months, Sunak will be tasked with restoring stability to England’s embattled economy during a winter when many Britons will be forced to choose between paying for heating or food. Many critics see Sunak as out of touch with the everyday struggles of the people he means to lead.

For instance, the massive indoor pool that Sunak has in his Georgian manor, which has been transformed into a kind of “wellness retreat,” could cost up to 14,000 pounds ($22,000) to heat due to soaring energy costs, according to the Guardian. That’s about six times higher than the average U.K. family’s energy bill.

Even before Sunak was married to his wife, he was rubbing shoulders with the elite. The former finance minister attended 600-year-old Winchester College, one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the world, whose current annual fees hover around $70,000.

After that, he attended Oxford University and studied politics, philosophy and economics before earning an MBA at Stanford University, where he met his wife.

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His parents, Yashvir and Usha Sunak, a doctor and pharmacist, respectively, are both Punjabi immigrants who emigrated from Africa. Sunak, who was born in 1980 in Southhampton, says he had his first experiences with managing payroll and accounts while working in his mother’s pharmacy.

His backers seek to assure the people of Britain that the cost-of-living crisis will be managed by the former finance minister, after weeks of chaos that were sparked by former prime minister Liz Truss’ mini-budget. Her plan to cut taxes for the rich faced immediate rebuke from the public and was quickly scrapped by her own party.

Sunak, who initially ran against Truss to succeed Boris Johnson, warned that Truss’ policies were “fairytale” economics that would spook the markets — and he turned out to be correct.

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Sunak was first elected to the British Parliament in 2015 and in just seven years his political star has rocketed to the top.

He was promoted to be parliamentary undersecretary of the now-defunct Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in 2018 before quickly transitioning to a new role as chief secretary of the Treasury a year later. In 2020, he was made Chancellor of the Exchequer by Boris Johnson, overseeing the country’s finances during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, Sunak grew his popularity by increasing government spending on jobs and welfare to provide emergency relief as lockdowns and restrictions swept the country. While he was praised for helping businesses and workers, Britain was also left saddled with an extra 400 billion pounds of debt.

Now, Sunak enters England’s top job at a time of “profound economic crisis,” with even more demands on the public purse. He is tasked with controlling the country’s ballooning debt as recession fears creep — all while the public demands relief from rising inflation.

Sunak’s government is set to deliver a new budget statement on Monday which will likely feature tax increases and spending cuts. The British public is waiting to see if Sunak can lift England out of its sluggish economy and succeed where his predecessors failed.

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— With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

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