Forget Rishi's next move, is Akshata Murty the one to watch? (2024)

Last Sunday evening, as England scraped through to the quarter finals after enacting an extraordinary last-minute turnaround to beat Slovakia, Rishi Sunak tweeted: 'It's not over until it's over' - but it is now.

This afternoon, Sir Keir Starmer will travel to Buckingham Palace where King Charles will invite him to form a government after the Labour Party won a landslide in the 2024 General Election.

It was an unusual campaign in which his wife and the mother of his two children, Vic Starmer, didn't appear often on the trail as a 'reluctant political spouse' as she has previously been dubbed.

Nonetheless she has fought off competition to become the UK's incoming First Lady, and will now accompany Sir Keir as he and his family move into 10 Downing Street.

But elsewhere, political spouses will be on hand to commiserate and congratulate their party-leader partners - from those whose parties suffered heavy defeats last night, to those who enormously outperformed even the most optimistic poll predictions.

The partners of some of our most prominent politicians could not be more different; from a billionaire heiress to an IT fortune to a 'sassy' NHS worker who began her relationship with her husband via a scrappy phone call - and the carer who looks after her disabled son full time.

Here, FEMAIL takes a look at the women behind the men of the hour who have tirelessly supported their partners during a gruelling election campaign...

Lady Victoria Starmer: The 'sassy' wife and reluctant political spouse who will keep her job in the NHS after moving into Downing Street

Lady Victoria Starmer shared a sweet kiss with her husband as Labour celebrated an historic electoral victory

Joining Sir Keir in Downing Street will be his wife of 14 years, Lady Victoria Starmer.

The former lawyer,who now works in occupational health for the NHS, largely keeps out of the limelight and has mostly avoided the campaign trial while helping her oldest son, 16, through his GCSEs.

In an interview with LBC Sir Keir said she had been helping to provide their children an 'environment where to study calmly.'

Mrs Starmer's preference to stay out of the political limelight contrasts with the more public role of Akshata Murty, Rishi Sunak's wife, who appeared at several key events, including the Tory manifesto launch.

Speaking during an LBC radio call-in event, Sir Keir described his wife to host Nick Ferrari as 'very plain speaking and very down to earth' and 'very supportive.'

Asked why she was not more often in the public eye, the Labour leader said: 'Vic does quite a bit with me, but during this campaign two things: One, she is working at the NHS in a hospital.

The partners of political heavyweights who have battled it out in the General Election have been working tirelessly behind the scenes this election

Vic Starmer, the wife of Sir Keir Starmer, has previously been dubbed a 'reluctant political spouse' but will now become the First Lady of the UK

'Two, and I don't make a lot of this, is our boy has been doing his GCSEs and therefore we took the decision that whilst I was out and about on the road, we wanted to create the environment where he could study calmly.'

Sir Keir, who is also very private about his family life, would also not be drawn into saying whether he would move his children into Downing Street if Labour wins the election - nonetheless, the couple's private life has occasionally come into focus.

Ms. Starmer, known affectionately by friends as Lady Victoria, has a Polish-Jewish father and a mother who converted to Judaism.

The family continues to observe the tradition of Friday night dinners at home and attends London's Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John's Wood, Sir Keir told The Jewish Chronicle in March 2021.

Born and raised in London, Ms. Starmer grew up in Gospel Oak in the north of the capital, near where the couple now lives with their two children.

She met Sir Keir while working as a solicitor, and he was a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in the early 2000s, according to the Independent.

They married in 2007 and and now live in a £1.75 million townhouse in Starmer's Holborn and St Pancras constituency.

Ms. Starmer later chose to leave the legal profession to focus on her role in the NHS and as a school governor. Despite Sir Keir's new role as Prime Minister, she plans to continue her NHS work, which she loves, according to her husband.

Unlike the wives of previous prime ministers, Mrs Starmer has made few public appearances.

Keir and Victoria met when he was working as a barrister and she was a solicitor via a phone call in which he grilled her on intricate details of a case

The couple pictured on their wedding day in Essex with Keir's parents Jo, who suffered from Still's Disease, and Rod

She participated in the 80th anniversary service for the Battle of Britain in 2020 and attended Labour's conference in Brighton in 2021.

More recently, she joined Sir Keir at events like the Euro 2020 Final, a vigil for Sarah Everard, and Wimbledon's women's singles semi-finals as well as an appearance at Taylor Swift's Eras Tour.

A Labour insider described Ms. Starmer to The Daily Telegraph as 'quite sassy' and 'unbothered by what [Keir] is doing.'

They added: 'If he ever gets into Downing Street, she's going to be very much leading her own life. They have a great dynamic - she spends quite a lot of time taking the mickey out of him because he can be so serious.'

As Sir Keir Starmer takes office, the nation watches closely, hoping for renewed direction and leadership after years of Conservative governance.

Meanwhile, the Starmer family's approach to public and private life will undoubtedly bring a fresh dynamic to Downing Street.

Ms. Starmer has also occupied a few the different roles in the course of her career - however they look a little different to Akshata Murty's millions.

Vic began her career as a solicitor, and met her husband during her time in law.

Alongside her legal role, Vic also took on a position mentoring deprived children, according to the Guardian.

In 2015, it was reported she had taken on a role of governor at her children's school in Kentish Town.

However, in recent years Vic has moved away from law and is no longer listed in the Solicitors Regulation Authority as a practicing solicitor.

Instead, she now works in occupational health in the NHS.

Sir Keir has previously revealed his wife is a sounding board for his health and public services policies.

He told the Mirror: 'She loves working for the NHS. She loves the team that she's working with.'

He added: 'I get a direct line of sight on a daily basis into the challenges of the NHS and the morale of the staff.'

Victoria's first meeting with her now-husband Keir doesn't quite match the fairytale of Rishi and Akshata's young love.

In fact, the Labour leader often jokes that the pair didn't get off on the right foot - to the point where Vic swore about him during their first interaction.

At the time, Vic was working as a solicitor and Keir was a QC. Having never spoken with her before, Keir called her at work one day to ask questions about the documents he had been given.

Recalling the call on Piers Morgan's Life Stories in 2021, Keir said: 'I was doing a case in court and it all depended on whether the documents were accurate.

'I [asked my colleagues] who actually drew up these documents, they said a woman called Victoria, so I said let's get her on the line.'

As he continued to question her over technical details in the documents and their accuracy, he sensed her becoming more and more agitated - to the point where he heard her mutter: 'Who the f*** does he think he is?'

However, the human rights barrister eventually managed to win over the solicitor, and the pair had their first date in the Lord Stanley pub in Camden.

The couple married a few years later in 2007, on the Fennes Estate in Essex. They share two children; 15-year-old Toby and a 12-year-old daughter whose name has never been made public.

Akshata Murty: Billionaire heiress with a love of fashion who grew up in India and walks the family Labrador in St James' Park

Akshata Murty will no doubt be commiserating her husband, outgoing prime minister Rishi Sunak, after his Conservative Party suffered catastrophic losses

Akshata, the daughter of a billionaire IT mogul, has been by her husband's side for much of the Tory campaign

When Rishi Sunak and his wife moved into Downing Street in 2022, they became the richest couple ever to have occupied its halls - but much of that wealth came from Akshata.

The 44-year-old is a billionaire heiress and is said to be wealthier than King Charles due to her £430 million stake in her father's IT empire.

Akshata is the daughter of N. R. Narayana Murthy, a founder of the Indian multinational IT company Infosys.

Meanwhile her mother, Sudha, is an educator and philanthropist who was once a chair on the board of Infosys.

Akshata and her brother Rohan grew up in Jayanagar, a suburb of Bangalore. She studied in India until university, when she moved to the US and attended Claremont McKenna College in California, before moving on to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and later, Stanford University.

The couple married at a lavish ceremony in India after the pair met at Stanford University in California

Despite being a daughter of a billionaire, Akshata recently revealed she likes the 'simple' 'everyday things' in life.

Speaking to the Times, she revealed she 'rarely' gets recognised and often walks the family Labrador in St. James' Park.

'I go to Tesco or the little Sainsbury's or I go to the in Victoria,' she said.

After moving to the US to complete her studies, Akshata received a diploma from theFashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA.

In her earliest years with Rishi, she pursued a career in fashion and set up her own business in 2007, Akshata Designs.

The label intended to celebrate Indian culture, discovering artists in remote villages and working with them and their designs to create her own.

'I'm about the story behind a particular garment, it's authenticity, craftsmanship and protecting a rich heritage,' she told Vogue. 'I care about doing something in India, for India because it's part of our family's DNA.'

However, her business venture fell flat and collapsed after just three years.

Despite this, Akshata has not shied away from business ventures and has held stakes in business over the yearsincluding the family empire, Infosys and a project she and Rishi set up together, Catamaran Ventures UK.

She has also been linked to Jamie Oliver's Pizzeria and Etonian tailor, New & Lingwood.

As of 2022, Akshata was listed as a director of the UK arm of software company Soroco, which was co-founded by her brother Rohan.

Shortly after she moved into 10 Downing Street, Akshata started a public Instagram profile, on which she shared more information about public appearances and visits she carried out in her capacity as first lady.

They include receiving other world leaders and their partners in official state visits, playing with children at schools - and she even shared a selfie from the King's Coronation concert.

She has also shared glimpses into family life with Rishi, their two daughtersKrishna and Anoushka, and the family dog Nova.

A notable guest hosted by Akshata during her time in Downing Street was Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska.

The pair cut powerful figures as they stood outside the door to the Prime Minister's residence - with Akshata dressed in blue, one of the colours on the Ukrainian flag.

They waved to the world's press outside the home while holding hands, in a show of unity while Ukraine remains under siege from Putin's forces since the 2022 invasion.

Ms Murty's introduction into public life brought plenty of scrutiny in many areas of her background - notably, her exceptional wealth and tax affairs due to her 'non dom' status.

However what she may not have expected was a backlash over her outfits.

Akshata's earliest appearances in the public eye saw her opting for very expensive pieces, including a £1,000 leather skirt and a pair of slippers costing £570.

Her fashion choices sparked criticism from some who thought her style was 'out of touch' with the average woman in Britain.

Since then, Akshata has altered her choices - opting for more upmarket high street brands.

Celebrity stylist Rochelle White told FEMAIL Akshata's image is 'fashion focused and forward'.

She said: 'She tends to wear colours and styles that are bold and make a statement, which I think represents her.

'As she has worked in fashion and I feel that is a big part of her and her personality she will naturally have an eye for colour palettes, styles and trend pieces that she can wear.

'I think she is also aware that eyes are on her and makes conscious decisions about what she is wearing and even in some cases who.'

Emily Gasson: The Lib Dem candidate who looks after her disabled son and met her husband campaigning

Ed Davey's partner Emily, who cares for their disabled son, went to the polling station to vote yesterday

Motther-of-two Emily Gasson has run to be an MP before, standing in North Dorset in 2005 while also being listed in the London Assembly elections

Unlike Victoria and Akshata, Emily Gasson is involved in politics - meeting her husband Ed Davery through the Liberal Democrat party.

In fact, the mother-of-two has even run to be an MP before, standing in North Dorset in 2005, while also being listed on theLondon-wide candidate list for the 2016 London Assembly elections andas a councillor for the three-seat Norbiton Ward in 2018.

As well as being a carer for her 16-year-old son, who has a neurological condition and needs round-the-clock care, in 2022 she revealed she hasmultiple sclerosis

Speaking to The Guardian she said she was diagnosed 10 years ago and that her MS had worsened 'since lockdown'.

'It can be serious, but not in Emily's case. She's bloomin' active,' Ed said.

'We're very fortunate. We get a lot of support from Emily's family and obviously we have decent salaries.'

Speaking in 2017, Ed said: 'Emily and I met through the party.I was chairing a Housing Policy Working Group and she was a member, as a social housing lawyer. What could be more romantic?'

The pair tied the knot in 2016 and have two children, John, 16, and Ellie, nine.

Sir Ed recently to hold back tears as herevealed one of his 'biggest fears' is what will happen to his disabled son when he is gone.

The former Cabinet minister spoke in an emotional TV interview about John, 16, who can't walk and has only limited speech due to aneurological condition.

'He's going to need 24/7 care for the rest of his life, I worry about who is going to look after him,' Sir Ed told ITV.

He also said he felt 'a duty' to stand up for carers during the general election campaign due to his personal experiences.

Sir Ed was only four when his father died and still a teenager when his mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Hiswife,Emily Gasson, hasmultiple sclerosis.

Speaking about raising John together, Sir Ed told ITV Tonight's The Leader Interviews: 'My wife has MS so she can do quite a bit but she can't do some things.

'My day tends to start with getting him out of bed, taking him to the toilet, taking his nappy off to give him a shower and cleaning his teeth.

'We massage him every day keep his limbs supple. He'll wake up between 5.30 and 6 o'clock and shout for his daddy, so his daddy has to get up and start that routine.'

Sir Ed took last weekend off from election campaigning in order to care for John, as he described being a father as 'the most joyful and important thing I do'.

'One of my biggest fears in life is what happens to him when I'm gone,' he added.

'I reflect on what my mother thought. I remember I'd been on a school trip to Germany when she was ill and I took a picture of me and this German girl - we'd spoken for about five minutes, it wasn't anything more than that.

'I showed my trip photos to my mum, and she said to me, 'I wonder who you are going to end up with?''

As his voice cracked with emotion, Sir Ed added: 'It's slightly different with John - because he's going to need 24/7 care for the rest of his life, I worry about who is going to look after him.

'No one is going to love him or hold him like I or my wife hold him, so we think about that.

'I'm sure all parents think about that, in some way, but when you've got a child that's so vulnerable with special needs, it's particularly pertinent.

'I think caring and carers is something that I almost have a duty to stand up for and talk about.'

Laure Ferrari: Nigel Farage's French lover who has been 'whipping him into shape' but didn't want to 'overshadow him on the campaign trial

Nigel Farage and his French partner, fellow Eurosceptic Laure Ferrari, gave a thumbs up as they celebrated his win in Clacton last night

Laure Ferrari - a French Eurosceptic 15 years younger than Mr Farage - has been described as the Reform leader's 'secret weapon'.

But the Frenchwoman stayed away from his campaign trial, to not distract the leader.

A source with knowledge of their relationship previously told MailOnline: 'Laure and Nigel are both rebels - but she wouldn't want her presence to overshadow his best chance of getting to Westminster'. But the insider added: 'If it would help him, and Reform, I'm sure she would happily be his secret weapon'.

Like the Reform leader's two ex-wives, Laure has kept a low profile but there was shock when she decided to appear on live TV in front of millions to meet her partner, 15 years her senior, after he came third in I'm a Celebrity last December.

But in recent months Laure and Nigel posed on the red carpet as they attended the Inspiration Awards For Women 2024 in London and did the same at a polo event at the end of May.

Mr Farage and Ms Ferrari have been together since 2017 - after they were spotted at his London home after he moved out of the family home in Kent and dancing together at a Brexit anniversary party.

Despite the yawning gap in their ages and roles, Ms Ferrari told MailOnline before her trip to the jungle last year: 'I was first attracted to Nigel's values as a man. He has loyalty, empathy and never breaks his promises. I find that very attractive.'

She has also been credited with helping Nigel lose weight and get healthier - mainly through cutting down on pints and cigarettes - although not completely.

They first met in 2007, when Nigel was a MEP in Brussels.

Laure began working for Mr Farage and fellow Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom after meeting them in the Strasbourg restaurant where she waited tables.

Describing what happened, she said previously: 'I met these two MEPs and we started talking about politics.

'The two Brits have no hierarchy and neither of them comes from a political background.'

In June 2013, Miss Ferrari posted on Twitter a link to a newspaper feature asking 'Why do more women want to bed Nigel Farage over David Cameron?'

But it was only four years later that their working relationship became romantic - and more political.

Nigel Farage’s wife of 18 years has moved out of the family home – eight months after The Mail on Sunday revealed he was living with French politician Laure Ferrari (pictured with Mr Farage in 2017)

Laure was staying with Nigel at his London home - but insisted it was a work arrangement

She was originally Mr Bloom's parliamentary assistant then head of public relations to a European Parliament grouping led by Mr Farage, and was a candidate for a small Right-wing party known as Debout la République (Arise The Republic) at European elections in 2014.

The party, later renamed Debout la France, was one of ten nationalist parties that make up the ADDE group, which was set up in 2014 by Ukip and funded by the European Parliament.

In March 2015, she was elected as executive director for the ADDE's think tank, the IDDE.

The two organisations shared an office in Brussels but Ms Ferrari moved to London, setting up a consultancy firm from an address in Clapham.

Ms Ferrari then spoke alongside Ukip politicians and other Brexit campaigners at public events in Dorset and Norfolk ahead of the EU referendumin 2016.

In 2017 she was spotted staying with Mr Farage, but he said they were friends.

The new Reform leader said he was giving Miss Ferrari 'short-term help' with her accommodation because she had nowhere else to go and needed money.

Asked if he had slept with her, he said: 'I'm not answering ludicrous questions, like have you ever held her hand, ever had dinner with her.

'She is someone I have worked with and known well for a long time who wanted somewhere to stay for a week that wouldn't cost her any money. It's a working relationship. You can inflate it however you want to.'

But that working relationship turned to romance.

Born in 1979 and raised in Epinal in North-East France, Miss Ferrari moved 90 miles to study English at the University of Strasbourg, and then spent two more years there doing a master's in communications.

After her studies, she took out a bank loan and opened a clothes shop in Strasbourg called Urban Flavor, as 'I couldn't see myself working for someone else'.

But the business did not flourish and financial difficulties led her to work as a waitress in the evenings - where she met her now partner.

Mr Farage's partners have largely kept a low profile.

In a rare interview his German-born second wife Kirsten Farage spoke out to deny he is racist, insisting he does not have a ‘bad bone in his body’ and the accusation 'hurts him'.

‘If he was a racist I wouldn’t be with him. I don’t think he has got a nasty bone in his body – he is not a bully, he likes things done properly,' she said.

Mrs Farage added: ‘It hurts him being personally attacked but it doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable because I know he is not a racist.’

Mrs Farage, who is notoriously publicity shy, broke her silence in 2016 to paint the father of four as a dutiful family man who enjoys watching Dad’s Army, though she admitted he was often so busy that they only saw him on television.

She told the Daily Telegraph her husband’s ‘hectic’ lifestyle – in which he drank and smoked too much, skipped meals and lived on adrenalin – made her fear for his health.

Hamburg-born Kirsten kept a very low profile and was rarely seen in public. At Ukip conferences, she sat anonymously in the audience.

She worked from home and rarely visited Ukip’s HQ in London’s Mayfair, which she described as a ‘freak show’.

Eight months after he was seen with Laure at a London property,Nigel Farage’s wife of 18 years moved out of the family home in Kent.

Friends said it was a sign that he was ‘getting serious’ with Ms Ferrari.

In his early 20s Nigel Farage had the first of several brushes with death, when he was run over by a car in Orpington, Kent, after a night in the pub.

He sustained severe injuries and doctors feared he would lose a leg.

But it would also lead to marriage and two children.

Mr Farage was treated by a nurse called Grainne Hayes - who became his first wife.

He had two sons with Ms Hayes, who are both now grown up.

After splitting with Ms Hayes he married German-born bond trader Kirsten Mehr in 1999.

She and Mr Farage met in Frankfurt in 1996, while he was travelling on business - and still married to his first wife.

Of the moment he met Kirsten, he once said: ‘She was a stunning government bond broker whose brisk efficiency at first sight belied her ethereal appearance. She could have stepped into a pre-Raphaelite painting no questions asked.’

Later, he explained in typically flamboyant style: ‘My marriage, which had been on ice and torpid with its claws bound for so long we had both forgotten it was alive at all, finally expired.’

The couple divorced in 1997 and Mr Farage married Kirsten in 1999. They have two children.

Forget Rishi's next move, is Akshata Murty the one to watch? (2024)


What dress was Rishi Sunak's wife wearing? ›

It was a high-necked dress with all the colours of Britain's national flag—blue, red and white stripes. Murty wore a dress with arrows pointing down, and the bottom part of the dress was red. The internet users compared the dress to the loss of the Conservative Party in the UK elections.

Who is Rishi's wife? ›

Akshatā Nārāyan Mūrty (born April 1980) is a Indian heiress, businesswoman, fashion designer and venture capitalist who is the current Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2022, as the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Murty is also the daughter of N. R.

When did Akshata Murty get married? ›

Murty is an Indian citizen. She speaks English, Hindi, Kannada and French. In August 2009, Murty married Rishi Sunak, whom she met in 2004 at Stanford University. They have two daughters, Anoushka and Krishna.

What religion is Rishi? ›

Rishis are believed to have composed hymns of the Vedas. The Post-Vedic tradition of Hinduism regards the rishis as "great yogis" or "sages" who after intense meditation (tapas) realized the supreme truth and eternal knowledge, which they composed into hymns.

Who is Rishi's parents? ›

Rishi Sunak was born on 12 May 1980 in Southampton General Hospital in Southampton, Hampshire, to East African-born Hindu parents of Indian Punjabi descent, Yashvir and Usha Sunak. His father was born in the Kenya Colony in 1949, while his mother was born in the Tanganyika Territory (modern-day Tanzania).

Who is the father-in-law of Rishi? ›

Is Sudha Murthy vegetarian or non-vegetarian? ›

I am a pure vegetarian. (I don't eat) Not even egg, garlic,” revealed Sudha. “I am scared that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians use the same spoon.

Is Rohan Murty married? ›

In December 2019, he married Aparna Krishnan, daughter of former Indian Navy officer K.R.

How much is Narayana Murthy worth? ›

What language does Rishi Sunak speak? ›

Who is the wife of Narayan Murthy? ›

Sudha Murty is married to Infosys co-founder N. R. Narayana Murthy. They married when she was employed as an engineer at TELCO in Pune. The couple have two children, including fashion designer Akshata Murty, who is married to former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak.

Who appoints the British Prime Minister? ›

The prime minister is appointed by the monarch, through the exercise of the royal prerogative.

Who is the great British Prime Minister? ›

The Rt Hon Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer became Prime Minister on 5 July 2024. He was elected as the member for Holborn and St Pancras in May 2015. He was elected leader of the Labour Party in April 2020.

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