David Cameron, the former British prime minister forced to resign after his catastrophic failure of judgment in calling a referendum on Britain exiting the EU which he then lost, has been swift to embrace the consolations of losing office.
Freed from the bounds of political necessity, Cameron has reverted to type. No longer does he have to pretend to be a “normal” middle-class London dad. Instead, once again, he can embrace his wealthy upper class roots.
One immediate fringe benefit to the disaster of losing the premiership is that instead of being forced to once again go to rainy Cornwall and munch ice cream on wind-swept and sodden beaches, the Camerons are spending August in a luxury villa, costing an estimated $20,000-per week, in Corsica, surrounded by the twinkling Mediterranean instead of the stormy Atlantic. And he is sporting very expensive swimming trunks.
The family will benefit in other ways too: the prospect of London state schools for the kids is receding rapidly, and Eton is back on the cards for his eldest boy, Elwen, who turned 10 in February.
Cameron adored his time at Eton, contemporaries say, and the impossibility of the PM sending his child to Eton was said to be one of his greatest regrets of taking office.
Now, he has no such political shackles to restrain him. “Boys have to be registered for Eton by the time they are 10-and-a-half,” says a source. For Elwen, that means this month is the deadline—so Cameron’s resignation has come just in time.
And while 10 Downing Street is out, the new Cameron pad is a much nicer, £16 million mansion in Holland Park lent to them by a close pal (as their own £2 million home in nearby Notting Hill is being rented out for £100,000 a year).
The friends in question, Sir Alan Parker (boss of city PR firm Brunswick) and his wife Lady Jane Parker, were ennobled by Cameron for services to business, charitable giving and philanthropy in the 2016 New Year’s Honors.
Cameron’s use of the honors system is also benefiting from his new lack of caution—there is an almighty row unfolding in the British press after it emerged he awarded his wife’s hairstylist, among others, an OBE in his resignation honors.
David Cameron himself is certainly wealthy, but not super rich. Cameron published his tax return this year, in the wake of the Panama Papers.
His tax documents reveal that he made more than £1million worth of taxable income over the past six years, including his pay as Prime Minister, rental income from his £2 million home in Notting Hill, interest on his savings and dividends from his shares.
He comes from a long line of a stockbrokers (Cameron’s great grandfather, Ewen Ivan, was a senior partner of the stockbroking firm, Panmure Gordon, as was Ian’s father, Donald) and they have managed their affairs wisely and had some lucky breaks.
Ian Cameron, David’s father, a member of Whites club who died in 2010 is said to have received more than £2 million in 1986 (a considerably larger fortune today) when the Stock Exchange deregulated in the “big bang.”
Although the Cameron family has undoubtedly done very well for itself in their city careers, their wealth pales in comparison to that of David’s wife Samantha. She makes a good wage as a consultant to the exclusive stationery firm Smythson—she collected a £50,000 windfall when the company changed hands for £18 million in 2009—but the real money is in her family, an ancient and powerful extended clan of aristocratic landowners.
Samantha’s father, Sir Reginald Sheffield, owns tens of thousands of prime agricultural land near Scunthorpe, and is conservatively estimated to be worth at least £20 million.
Sir Reginald divides his time between Scunthorpe’s Thealby Hall and Sutton Park near York.
Even Sir Reggie’s riches, however, are trifling compared to the fortune controlled by her stepfather, William, the fourth Viscount Astor, whom her mother married in 1976 after divorcing Sheffield.
Astor’s family trust controls property holdings valued at an eye-watering £210 million. Another benefit of losing office is that Cameron, freed from the need to project an image of personal austerity, will once again be able to visit Astor’s 20,000-acre estate on the Scottish island of Jura, home of what guests say is the U.K.’s best private stag shoot (Cameron is said to be an excellent shot).
Losing the premiership as a result of the Brexit referendum was a disastrous end to Cameron’s otherwise charmed political career—but, as he relaxes beside the pool in Corsica, he (and his wife) will no doubt be cognizant of the fact that there are considerable consolations to a lower public profile.
A return to the millionare-y life to which the Camerons were for so many years accustomed should help to soften the blow.