However, today’s younger British aristocrats should perhaps be given more credit than that given to the posh youngsters in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Despite often coming from enormous wealth, many are now rolling up their Oxford collar shirtsleeves and setting out on their own in business. With titles, an inheritance and a public-school education to their name, the posh youth are increasingly shunning university in pursuit of entrepreneurialism, running startups as opposed to attending rugby socials.
Indeed, the prime minister David Cameron’s wife Samantha perhaps set this trend, working for luxury goods emporium Smythson. In one of his wittier moments, the prime minister was once overheard saying “I admire entrepreneurs, I should do – I go to bed with one every night.”
In light of this, Real Business has put together a short list including some of high society’s freshest young entrepreneurial talent, several of which you may already have heard of.
Maria Balfour: 39, founder of catering firm Effortless Eating
“Coming from a privileged background means you have more to prove,” Balfour said in an interview after the launch of her catering company in 2006.
Providing ready-to-heat food for private dinner parties, picnics and canapes for drinks parties, Balfour’s business claims to be the invisible chef, creating dinner party food hosts would like to pass off as their own.
The daughter of the earl and countess of Balfour, she grew up in West Sussex, attending St Mary’s Ascot school. She experienced the traditional “gap yaar” travelling around South America before heading to Bristol university to study politics. After failing to fall in love with the corporate world on the Bell Pottinger graduate training programme and a brief stint in PR, Balfour found a job with a shoe brand that educated her in what it takes to run a small business.
The shoe firm eventually went bust, but Balfour’s ambition encouraged her to establish her own startup. A passion for good, home-cooked food made Balfour pursue her bank for a loan with which she started Effortless Eating – a home-cooked food delivery service for people without time or the inclination to cook for themselves. To date, Balfour has cooked for some big names including David Frost (her uncle), Bryan Ferry and Daisy Donovan.
She doesn’t use her title in her professional guise. “It can be more of a hindrance than a help,” she said. “Being my own boss is wonderful, but setting up the business was tough as I had no income and I had to increase my mortgage. My aim is to build effortless eating into a nationwide brand.”
In her time off, Balfour likes to party with the best of them, regularly attending Raffles and holidaying in Cornwall or the Seychelles.
Read on to find out who else made the list.
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