How Euan Blair dodged the curse of Prime Ministers’ children

Harry Mount
·7-min read
Sons and daughters: Euan Blair, centre, and left to right, Mark and Carol Thatcher, Randolph Churchill, James Major and model Emma Noble, Meriel Douglas-Home
Sons and daughters: Euan Blair, centre, and left to right, Mark and Carol Thatcher, Randolph Churchill, James Major and model Emma Noble, Meriel Douglas-Home

My God! Can Euan Blair really be worth £73 million? That’s even more than his moneybags dad, Tony, who’s got a mere £60 million to his name. Master Blair has made the money out of his apprenticeship company, Multiverse, which promotes an alternative to the university system his father championed as Prime Minister.

How time flies. Surely it was only yesterday that little Euan made headlines after being found “drunk and incapable” in Leicester Square after celebrating the end of his GCSEs? That was in 2000, when Euan was 16 – he’s now 37 and the CEO of a tech start-up that’s just been valued at £147 million.

His success is impressive both in its own right and for what it says about the Blairs’ eldest son. For he is the exception to the rule when it comes to the offspring of Prime Ministers. Usually, the huge fame of being the PM leaves ones children rather in the shade – and the list of political sons and daughters who have struggled to find their own way in life is long and tragic.

In recent years, our Prime Ministers have had very young children in Number 10 – David Cameron, Gordon Brown and, of course, Boris Johnson, whose son, Wilfred, is eight months old. Their youth means they haven’t been adversely affected by life in Downing Street, while privacy laws stopped them being photographed – meaning they will be able to go about everyday life unrecognised.

Harder, though, for the oldest Blairs, who were approaching their teens when their father won in 1997. That said, I am told that Euan is popular among the Silicon Roundabout crowd, many of whom don’t know who his father is. He apparently networks seamlessly, and his latest round of investment – £32 million, led by American venture capital firm General Catalyst, which previously backed Snapchat and Deliveroo – speaks to that.

Multiverse will open a New York office later this month, and there are plans to hire 200 employees across the UK this year. Not bad for a business Euan co-founded in 2016, after a stint at American bank Morgan Stanley.

His venture capitalist wife, Suzanne Ashman, who he married in 2013, moves in similar circles. The couple live in a £3.6 million townhouse in Marylebone, near Tony’s London home in Connaught Square, bought for £3.5 million in 2004, and into which Tony and Cherie moved when he stood down as PM in 2007.

It is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Blair empire. Cherie has been keen to do well out of property since 1997, when her husband came to power. She allegedly regretted selling their handsome Islington house for £615,000 (today, it’s worth over £3 million). Since then, the family has made up for lost time, building up a £35 million portfolio of 39 homes and flats. Tony and Cherie own a mammoth £10 million pile in Buckinghamshire, formerly John Gielgud’s house, as well as a London mews house, worth £1.7 million. Cherie and Euan co-own 31 flats in Manchester and Stockport.

Euan’s younger brother Nicky, 36, a football agent, has a £2.75 million London house. His sister, Kathryn, a 32-year-old barrister, owns two London houses – one bought for £1.4 million in 2015, another in 2018 for £2.4 million. Leo – the baby famously conceived at Balmoral – is now 20 and at Oxford. He is co-owner, with Kathryn, of an £800,000 home near his parents’ Buckinghamshire pile.

Farewell to Downing Street: Euan, Tony, Kathryn, Leo, Cherie and Nicky Blair in 2007 - AFP
Farewell to Downing Street: Euan, Tony, Kathryn, Leo, Cherie and Nicky Blair in 2007 - AFP

And yet, for all their bricks and mortar credentials, it is Euan who seems to have made his own way in the world – a rarity among Downing Street’s junior residents.

That wasn’t the case for Mark Thatcher. He and twin sister Carol were 25 when their mother came to office in 1979. He has lived much of his grown-up life in the media spotlight.

In 1982, he was lost in the Sahara Desert in the Paris-Dakar Rally and developed his unreliable reputation. In 1983, when I was 11, I met Mark at Downing Street (my father, Ferdinand Mount, was head of Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit) at a party for Trooping the Colour. I first asked Denis Thatcher for his autograph – which he happily gave. I then asked him if I might ask Mark for his autograph.

“I wouldn’t bother if I was you,” replied Denis. “The boy can scarcely write his own name.”

Mark Thatcher with Margaret and Denis Thatcher and sister Carol - PA
Mark Thatcher with Margaret and Denis Thatcher and sister Carol - PA

Mark’s career didn’t prosper. He has denied suggestions that, in 1985, he got multi-million pound commissions thanks to the £45 billion Al-Yamamah arms deal. In 2004, he was linked to an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea.

Another Downing Street son who got into hot water was James Major. He was 22 when his father lost the 1997 election. Two years later, he married model Emma Noble, but their union came to a sticky end in 2004, with Noble accusing Major of “unreasonable behaviour”. Career-wise, he also struggled to find his footing, first working for Marks & Spencer, later as a nightclub promoter and more recently was known to be a flooring contractor.

Prime Ministers’ children have a particularly rough time if their mother or father is in office for a long spell – and are good at it. With the exception of Lady Soames (1922-2014), Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter, his children had a tricky time as the offspring of the greatest living Englishman. Churchill’s only son, Randolph, had the biggest burden of expectation. Born in 1911, he spent his life in his father’s shadow, not least as a Tory MP himself during the war.

Randolph swaggered in his father’s reflected fame, irritating his contemporaries. When a benign tumour was removed from his lung, Evelyn Waugh declared: “They’ve cut out the only part of Randolph that isn’t malignant!” A heavy smoker and whisky drinker, he died aged 57 in 1968.

It’s even harder having a Prime Minister for a father and sharing his name. That was the fate of Sir Robert Peel, son of the great Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister who founded the Metropolitan Police and created the modern Conservative Party.

Peel the PM was my great-great-great-great grandfather – and is a real hero in my family. Not so, I’m afraid, his son. Robert Peel junior desperately tried to emulate his famous father. He took over his old seat, Tamworth, rising to become Chief Secretary for Ireland but he was given to rudeness – in 1857, he insulted the Russian royal court.

A keen racing man, he blew the family fortune and flogged much of the Peel picture collection, including a Rubens. Exiled from the family seat, Drayton Manor in Staffordshire, he died in 1895, aged 73. His obituary declared that his death “left no gap in English public life. His career has closed in disappointment and futility.”

Anthony Asquith (right), son of PM Herbert, became a successful film director - Keystone
Anthony Asquith (right), son of PM Herbert, became a successful film director - Keystone

There are some successful children of Prime Ministers. Anthony, son of Herbert Asquith, Liberal PM from 1908 to 1916, became a film director, responsible for the lovely 1952 film, The Importance of Being Earnest. His sister, Violet Bonham Carter, was renowned as a politician, president of the Liberal Party and peer.

Then there’s the unique father-and-son double. Pitt the Elder was Whig Prime Minister from 1766 to 1768, when he was in his late 50s. Pitt the Younger outdid his father. He was only 24 when he became the youngest ever PM in 1783. He remained Prime Minister for over 17 years and, what’s more, returned to Downing Street in 1804 for another two years, until his death. So if Blair the Younger wants to beat his Dad in politics, as well as money, he’s still got time. Blair the Elder was 43 when he moved into Downing Street – six years older than his gilded son is today. The “Blair apparent”? Only time will tell.