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Is Britain Ready For Akshata Murty?

By Rediff Get Ahead
July 19, 2022 10:34 IST
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IMAGE: Akshata Murty's husband Rishi Sunak leads the race to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of Britain's Conservative party and become the United Kingdom's prime minister. Photograph: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Who is Akshata Murty?

Rishi Sunak, her husband of 13 years, served as Britain's chancellor of the exchequer (its finance minister) till he resigned from Boris Johnson's Cabinet last fortnight and set in motion the avalanche of events that led to Boris stepping down as leader of the Conservative party and eventually prime minister.

Akshata, 42, speaks French, English, Hindi and Kannada (according to her LinkedIn profile), and is the elder child of Infosys Co-founder N R Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murty, one of India's best-loved authors.

Born in Hubli, Akshata was mostly raised by her paternal grandparents Padavathamma Murthy and N Rama Rao while her parents were based in Bangalore; her father laying the foundation for Infosys. She subsequently attended the Baldwin's Girl's High School in Bangalore.

IMAGE: An unusual snapshot of Akshata Murty and Rishi Sunak celebrating the Yuletide season. Photograph: Kind courtesy Rishi Sunak/Facebook

Akshata moved to California to pursue an undergraduate degree in French and economics at Claremont McKenna College and then to Los Angeles obtain a diploma in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and subsequently to Stanford for an MBA.

IMAGE: 'My wife loves her country,' Rishi has said of Akshata who retains her Indian passport. Photograph: Kind courtesy Rishi Sunak/Facebook

At Stanford, she met Southampton-born Rishi Sunak, and they married in 2009. The son of a doctor-pharmacist Punjabi couple from Africa who moved to England in the 1970s, Rishi, who was educated at the elite Winchester College school and at Oxford, went on to work at Goldman Sachs and later joined politics.

The couple maintain four homes -- a townhouse in London at Kensington, a flat for family guests on Old Brompton Road, Kensington, a historic mansion in Kirby Sigston, Yorkshire, and an apartment in Santa Monica, California. Rishi, in fact, controversially held a US green card till 18 months into his tenure as chancellor.

IMAGE: Akshata speaks with Prince Charles as Rishi looks on. Photograph: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Akshata, who once designed clothes under the label Akshata Designs Inc, that were, she said, 'passports to different cultures', is an Indian citizen and is a not a resident of the UK. She previously worked at New & Lingwood, an English gentlemen's clothing outfitter, and upmarket gym chain Digme Fitness.

It was recently estimated that her net worth at £ 430 million is more than Queen Elizabeth II, but she does not pay taxes in the country she lives in.

IMAGE: Rishi titled this pic on his FB feed with the caption: 'With Ruth English of Winnie's Yorkshire Delights. She sold us some excellent Beetroot Relish and sang a song too!' Photograph: Kind courtesy Rishi Sunak/Facebook

Akshata and Rishi have two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka, and she divides her time between raising her kids and running her equity capital business Catamaran Ventures (which was begun by her dad and has a London office).

Rishi and she apparently split the household chores, but she lets him load the dishwasher because apparently he is very OCD about that.

IMAGE: Manor House, a mansion owned by Akshata and Rishi, at Kirby Sigston, North Yorkshire. Photograph: Kind courtesy RichTea/ Commons

'Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved clothes,' Akshata once told Vogue. 'My mother, a no-nonsense engineer, was always baffled why I would spend so much time creating different outfits from my wardrobe.'

As the wife of the chancellor of the exchequer, Akshata has been mostly been spied in very sober but very tasteful outfits and some lovely saris.

Should her husband become PM, Britain would have a very different prime ministerial spouse than Cherie Blair, Sarah Brown, Samantha Cameron, Philip May and Carrie Johnson who have lived in 10, Downing Street this century.

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