As Rishi Sunak prepares to become Britain’s third prime minister this year, curiosity about his wealth hovers in the public’s mind like thought bubbles filled with crisp British pound notes.
Just how rich is he?
This year, The Times of London estimated that Mr. Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, were worth more than $800 million, placing them among the 250 wealthiest British people or families.
Whatever the true numbers (the Sunaks could not be reached for comment and would hardly tell their exact fortune if they did), questions have swirled about whether, given all his wealth, the multimillionaire and soon-to-be prime minister could relate to ordinary Britons grappling with a crippling cost-of-living crisis. He is, after all, about to oversee tough measures to pull the country out of a deep financial hole and avoid a recession.
In August, Mr. Sunak confronted the questions about his personal wealth head-on, saying that while he was fortunate to be in his situation, he wasn’t “born like this.” He added, “I think in our country, we judge people not by their bank account; we judge them by their character and their actions.”
But judge the British tabloids have, calling him “Rishi Rich.” His wife, a fashion designer, is the daughter of an Indian technology billionaire. Mr. Sunak’s foes have pointed to his penchant for wearing suits that cost 3,500 pounds, about $4,300, and have noted that he once wore a pair of Prada loafers to a construction site — cost, £490. The couple also have homes in London; his parliamentary constituency in Yorkshire, England; and in Santa Monica, Calif.
He was born in Southampton, England, to a father who was a doctor and a mother who ran a pharmacy. He went to Winchester College, one of Britain’s most elite schools. He graduated Oxford, attended Stanford and made his own fortune as an investment banker at companies like Goldman Sachs before entering Parliament in 2015 and becoming chancellor of the Exchequer in 2020 at age 39.
Now, he will be one of the wealthiest people ever to occupy 10 Downing Street.
This year, Mr. Sunak appeared to try to burnish his bona fides as an ordinary Briton, using a well-worn political trope by venturing into a store to pay for items. But what was clearly a photo opportunity went awry.
After delivering his mini-budget to the House of Commons in March, he showed up at a gas station in New Cross, Lewisham, a mic clipped to his tie, cameras snapping and video cameras filming. Footage aired by Sky News showed the gas station worker raising a device to scan a can of Coke for Mr. Sunak. But the then-chancellor, not realizing the device wasn’t a card machine, awkwardly attempted to pay with his bank card through a plastic screen.
Social media users had no mercy, mocking him as anything but a man of the people.