Inside Rishi Sunaks early years and prestigious schooling

Rishi Sunak makes first statement as Prime Minister

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Rishi Sunak has become Prime Minister, the third leader the UK has had in three months following the resignations of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. He is the youngest Prime Minister Britain has seen in more than a century, and is the first person of colour to lead the country. On October 25, the 42-year-old met with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace before giving his first speech outside Number 10 Downing Street where he spoke of the “profound economic crisis” currently facing Britain. Much has been said about his private life and early years. Now, takes a look at the UK’s 57th Prime Minister’s beginnings, and the first-rate education he received. 

Mr Sunak was born in Southampton General Hospital, Hampshire, on May 12, 1980 and is the eldest of three children. His Indian parents moved to the UK from East Africa in the Sixties, and his father, Yashvir, was an NHS GP while his mother, Usha, was a pharmacist who ran her own shop.

The MP for Richmond, Yorkshire, wrote on the Conservative Party’s website that he was influenced by the “positive difference” his parents made as he grew up “watching them serve the local community with dedication.” 

Mr Sunak helped his mum in the shop as well as working as a waiter at an Indian restaurant, Kuti’s Brasserie, which was owned by a family friend, the Daily Mail reported.

During a leadership debate in July on BBC One, Mr Sunak told the nation of his upbringing and the opportunities he had.

He said: “I’m standing here because of the hard work, the sacrifice, and love of my parents and the opportunities they provided to me, and that’s why I want to be Prime Minister because I want to ensure that everyone, your children and grandchildren, has the very same opportunities that I had.”

He first went to Oakmount Preparatory School before attending Stroud School. The Hampshire Chronicle reported that one of his fellow students, Ollie Case, said teachers knew he was destined to become leader. 

They said: “He was someone that was talked about. The teachers would say, ‘He’s going to be a Prime Minister’.”

The 42-year-old then studied at a private boarding school in Hampshire, Winchester College, which also accepts day students. Today, a year’s boarding school fees cost £45,936 per year, £15,312 per term. 

According to Tatler, Mr Sunak missed out on the scholarship to Winchester and his parents paid the fees themselves, but it is not known how much they cost at the time. 

Mr Sunak, who later became head boy of the prestigious school, donated more than £100,000 to Winchester College earlier this year. Both he and his wife, Akshata Murty, were listed as “Wykeham benefactors”, giving money to help fund scholarships for children who would not otherwise be able to attend. 

The former Chancellor said attending Winchester effectively changed his life as it put his life on a “different trajectory”. Speaking to Sky News earlier this year, Mr Sunak said: “It’s part of the reason I’m sitting here and I’m really grateful to have had that opportunity.”

He added: “I look back on that time. It’s helped make me who I am as a person, and it helps me do the job in the way that I do it. And it confirms to me that education is one of the best tools at our disposal in politics to spread opportunity.”

Mr Sunak then went to the University of Oxford, just as many others who went to Winchester College did and still do to this day. According to Tatler’s Schools Guide, the school sends the most students to Oxbridge and the top universities in America, such as Princeton – where Michelle Obama and Jeff Bezos studied. 

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While there, he read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) like other leaders who came before him, such as David Cameron and Liz Truss. A total of 30 Prime Ministers – including Ms Truss and Mr Sunak – studied at Oxford. 

After his first round of university education, Mr Sunak went on to study at Standford business school in California and left with an MBA. On his Conservative Party website page, hey pays tribute to the education he has had thanks to his parents’ sacrifices.

He said: “My parents sacrificed a great deal so I could attend good schools. I was lucky to study at Winchester College, Oxford University, and Stanford University. 

“That experience changed my life and as a result I am passionate about ensuring everybody has access to a great education. I have been a school governor, a board member of a large youth club, and have always volunteered my time to education programmes that spread opportunity.”

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