The truth about “Dave” Cameron
September 23, 2010
‘Dave’ Cameron says he’s in touch with reality…but with so much wealth and blue blood you have to wonder
With his cut-glass vowels, tweed jacket and collection of stately homes, he is a textbook toff.
A direct descendant of Charles II, Sir Reginald lists his recreations in Debrett’s Peerage as shooting and stalking.
He can trace his bloodline back to the Knights Templar and the Fifth Crusade, and owns 3,000 acres of prime Lincolnshire farmland.
Much of the furniture at his country home once graced Buckingham Palace – which was the family’s London pad, before they passed it on to the Queen.
This is Sir Reginald Adrian Berkeley Sheffield – a colourful old-school Baronet, who just happens to be man-of-the-people Tory leader David Cameron’s father-in-law.
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David Cameron’s father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield has a line going back hundreds of years
To the potential embarrassment of the new-look Conservative high command, Sir Reginald has just erupted in anger at the peasants on his estate, who were getting out of hand.
He is said to have become enraged during a heated dispute over a strip of land at his magnificent country seat.
John Kilmartin, who lives in a semidetached former council house adjoining the estate in Normanby, Lincolnshire, said that 61-year-old Sir Reginald ranted at him before pushing him out through the door and ‘blowing me off the premises’.
He described the encounter as a clash between nobility and the common man and said Sir Reginald is ‘a big bully multi-millionaire landlord’ who shouted: ‘Get orf my property.’
Kilmartin said: “It was so degrading. It has all been very distressing.”
For his part, Sir Reginald – an Old Etonian whose family crest is a boar’s head framed by two arrows – was pictured with his hands thrust defiantly into his pockets, in front of priceless antiques.
It is not the first time he has been in trouble with locals – he sparked widespread anger by chopping down an historic lime tree in the centre of Normanby village green, and is described as ‘a throwback to feudalism’.
This, of course, is the silver-spoon background that ‘Dave’ Cameron would rather the common man did not see.
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David Cameron (left) is descended from King William IV
Indeed, his wife Samantha is aristocratic on both sides of her family.
Creative director of the upmarket stationery company Smythson of Bond Street, she is a direct descendant of Nell Gwyn, mistress to Charles II, and her stepfather is Viscount Astor.
Meanwhile, ‘Call me Dave’ himself comes from a family which makes the bulk of the British landed gentry seem positively nouveau riche.
Cameron is William IV’s great-great-great-great-great grandson, which Debrett’s says makes him fifth cousin, twice removed, of the Queen.
As Patrick Cracroft-Brennan, of the guide Cracroft’s Peerage, says: “Mr Cameron is the most aristocratic leader of the Conservative Party since Alec Douglas-Home.”
But as well as being impeccably connected, David Cameron is also extremely wealthy. Sunday Times Rich List compiler and wealth watchdog Philip Beresford has valued the Tory leader for the first time.
He says: “I put the combined family wealth of David and Samantha Cameron at £30m plus. Both sides of the family are extremely wealthy. They certainly have no need to worry about poverty or paying school fees.”
Cameron is, of course, keen to play all this down. Although it has been said that he ‘exudes Eton from every pore’, he is acutely conscious that his elite education and topdrawer relatives are a vote-loser.
He was embarrassed by photographs showing him dressed in formal attire attending the Bullingdon Club at Oxford, an exclusive dining society notorious for Hooray Henry high jinks.
He has admitted ‘shooting the odd pigeon’, but neglects to mention that he is a regular visitor to the 20,000-acre estate in Scotland owned by his stepfather-in-law, Viscount Astor, where he shoots stag.
The Astor family trusts own a property company called Sableknight, with more than £140m of net assets, so they can afford to be generous hosts.
His lineage is fascinating: he is related to William IV through the King’s illegitimate daughter, Lady Elizabeth FitzClarence.
She is one of at least ten children he had out of wedlock with the actress Dorothea Jordan, his long-term mistress.
The royal connection comes through Cameron’s paternal grandmother Enid, who married his grandfather Ewen Donald Cameron.
Enid can be traced back directly via a couple of knights and a brace of earls to William IV’s daughter.
A spokesman for Debrett’s says of Cameron’s illegitimate ancestor: “It was a scandal, but the 18th century was less prudish about these matters than we are. It wasn’t a secret.”
With such a pedigree, it goes almost without saying that the family has been wealthy for hundreds of years.
An early forebear went to Chicago and made a fortune in the grain business, before returning to Scotland in 1880 to build the ancestral home, Blairmore House in Aberdeenshire.
Then there is their long and lucrative history in finance. David Cameron’s great-great grandfather Sir Ewen Cameron helped the Rothschilds sell war bonds during the Russo-Japanese war.
Cameron’s father, Ian, and grandfather, Ewen Donald, were both Eton-educated senior partners at stockbrokers Panmure Gordon.
Here, they made serious money. Philip Beresford says: “Ian would have reaped the rewards of the Big Bang, 21 years ago, when genteel stockbroking partners sold out for a fortune at places like Panmure Gordon.
“He will also have made some serious money as director at the upmarket estate agent John D. Wood. I value him at £10m plus.”
Something of a character, Cameron Senior frequents White’s, the most aristocratic of London gentlemen’s clubs, where he was chairman.
Fellow members include not only Cameron Junior but also Prince Charles – who held his stag night at the club two days before marrying Diana – and Prince William.
As a former High Sheriff of Berkshire, Ian Cameron is a leading light in rural circles, and the family home is a solid rectory in the quintessentially English village of Peasemore, near Newbury.
Last year, the Camerons held an auction of £200,000-worth of family antiques, one table alone fetching £30,000.
The young Cameron’s early childhood was one of nannies, matrons and tennis courts. His mother, Mary Fleur Mount, is the second daughter of Sir William Malcolm Mount, 2nd Baronet, and is descended from a long line of Tory MPs.
At the age of seven, he was sent to Heatherdown preparatory school in Berkshire, attended by Princes Andrew and Edward.
It is said that at sports day, the school provided three separate lavatories: one for the ladies, one for the gentlemen and one for chauffeurs.
His biographers, Francis Elliott and James Hanning, note that the other parents included ‘eight honourables, four sirs, two captains, two majors, two princesses, two marchionesses, one viscount, one brigadier, one commodore, one earl, one lord, and one queen (the Queen)’.
In the late Seventies, the grandson of the oil billionaire John Paul Getty asked four of his classmates to America to celebrate his birthday. Cameron was one of them.
As they tucked into caviar, salmon and beef bordelaise on board Concorde, the master accompanying the boys recalled turning towards the 11-year-old Cameron, who raised a glass of Dom Perignon ’69 and exclaimed: ‘Good health, Sir!’
All in all, Cameron is used to moving in wealthy circles. His first flatmate, Pete Czernin, was the heir to a £1.5bn property fortune, and in this world, privilege is taken for granted.
The Camerons know how to ‘work’ their connections, too. David Cameron got his first job as a researcher for Tim Rathbone, his godfather and Conservative MP for Lewes.
Three months later he went to Hong Kong to work at the conglomerate Jardine Matheson – Daddy was stockbroker to the chairman, providing a fast-track into the business world.
When the young Cameron was due to attend a job interview at Conservative Central Office, a phone call was received from Buckingham Palace. “I understand you are to see David Cameron,” said the caller. “I am ringing to tell you that you are about to meet a truly remarkable young man.”
It has been speculated that the mystery call was from Captain Sir Alastair Aird, Equerry to the Queen Mother and husband of Cameron’s godmother. The Airds vigorously denied it.
Others have suggested the caller might have been Sir Brian McGrath, a family friend who was private secretary to Prince Philip. But he, too, though named as a referee for the job, denies it firmly.
No matter – the tale provides an illuminating insight into the family’s enviable social standing, and how the ambitious Cameron was helped by well-placed friends and family.
And as we have seen, there is no shortage of pedigree on Samantha’s side of the family, with Sir Reginald Sheffield tracing his lineage back to the 13th century.
She herself triggered giggles at the 2005 Tory Party Conference for saying she grew up in Scunthorpe, neglecting to mention that home was 3,000-acre Normanby Park, purchased in 1590.
Sir Reginald now lives in nearby Thealby Hall – an imposing home with formal gardens – with his second wife, Victoria. He also owns Sutton Park, near York, and manages the Normanby estate.
His land makes him a millionaire many times over. Beresford says: “As a Lincolnshire grain baron, he is quids in. These are the richest farmers in Britain, with money to burn.
“With world food commodity prices soaring, they are set for years of huge increases in their incomes as grain prices soar.
“The value of his land will also be going up as the City bonus brigade tries desperately to buy rolling acres and magnificent country houses. Sir Reginald is sitting on a £20m-plus fortune.”
He also has impeccable connections. His cousin, Davina, was one of the Prince of Wales’s earliest girlfriends and another, Jane, was lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.
The Sheffields accumulated their vast wealth through a concerted campaign to marry Lincolnshire’s richest landlords, becoming the wealthiest family in the area by the 15th century.
Thereafter, the family history reads like an Arthurian drama, complete with kings, battles and bloody plots. One ancestor, Robert Sheffield, was knighted by King Henry VIII only to die a prisoner in the Tower of London after offending Cardinal Wolsey.
Another met a grisly demise, being poisoned in 1568 by the Earl of Leicester, who was after his wife, one of the great court beauties.
In time, Leicester poisoned her too, after tiring of her – she lived but the potion made her lose her hair and nails, destroying her looks.
The wealthiest and most powerful Sheffield of all was John, who became the Duke of Buckingham and Normanby. He built Buckingham House, as it was known then, and bestowed the first baronetcy on his son Sir Charles Herbert Sheffield, who later sold Buckingham Palace to George III in 1762.
A later Sheffield married a descendant of one of the illegitimate sons of Nell Gwyn, the actress and mistress to Charles II.
Sir Reginald is the eighth baronet, who married Annabel Jones, Samantha Cameron’s mother, but they divorced after only six years, and she went on to marry the extremely wealthy and aristocratic Viscount Astor.
Jones herself is descended from the 10th Baron Clifford of Chudleigh and works as the director of a home furnishings company, based in London. She is now, by marriage, Viscountess Astor.
Recently, the Cameron household has been rocked by rumours that Viscount Astor – Samantha’s stepfather – was having an affair with Rachel Whetstone, one of David’s campaign team and godmother to his eldest child
Ever eager to press his modern, new man credentials, be it riding his bike to work or chatting about iPods, Cameron is unquestionably a great family man.
Indeed, he is fond of saying: “If you don’t see your family, you lose touch with all reality.”
But with such wealth and so much blue blood in his family, one can’t help wondering how legitimate his links with reality actually are.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-462313/Dave-Cameron-says-hes-touch-reality–wealth-blue-blood-wonder.html#ixzz10Lh6sUmL
This entry was posted on September 23, 2010 at 11:55 and is filed under Front page, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
One Response to The truth about “Dave” Cameron
Graham Martin on September 24, 2010
How much of a “Commoner” do you have to be to sit in the House of Commons? Is it possible Cameron isn’t even eligible for the role?
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