Home / News / World /  Banking dynasty descendant Evelyn De Rothschild passes away at 91

Evelyn de Rothschild, who assisted in bringing together the British and French branches of his family's renowned banking organisation and counted Queen Elizabeth II among his clients, has passed away at 91.

He died “peacefully at home," the UK’s Press Association reported, citing a statement from his family. 

Rothschild headed N.M. Rothschild & Sons, the London branch of the banking dynasty founded by his great-great-great-grandfather in the late 18th century, for 27 years beginning in 1976. The bank that is now known as Rothschild & Co. played a number of important roles, including helping to finance the Duke of Wellington's victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

He accomplished a long-planned objective of merging the London company with its French counterpart, Rothschild & Compagnie Banque, before stepping down in 2003. That was regarded as a crucial step in maintaining competition with multinational banks that were much younger but also larger.

“The first important strength of the family is unity," he told the New York Times in 1996, as he and his cousin, David de Rothschild, head of the French house, announced their new partnership. 

He served as chairman of the Economist magazine from 1972 to 1989.

Mayer Amschel founded the Rothschild company. He began by trading in vintage coins in a Frankfurt shanty. The red shield, or "rote Schild" in German, which was hung above an ancestor's home in the 1560s served as the inspiration for his family's surname.

Early in the nineteenth century, he sent his five sons to found Rothschild offices in London, Paris, Naples, Vienna, and Frankfurt. Evelyn's great-great grandfather, Nathan Mayer Rothschild, is commemorated by the London-based N.M. Rothschild company.

The family's power diminished in the 20th century as a result of American banks being used by European governments to finance both world wars against Germany. Evelyn and his cousin Jacob transformed N.M. Rothschild into a British merchant bank after World War II, arranging international bond deals for nations like Chile and Hungary.

Due to Jacob's desire to merge with S.G. Warburg & Co. in order to compete with Wall Street firms and expand internationally, the two had a highly publicised breakup in 1980. When Evelyn refused, Jacob resigned and started RIT Capital Partners Plc, a subsidiary investment company.

“The preservation of family control took precedence over expansion," British historian Niall Ferguson wrote in his second volume on the Rothschild clan. “It was a serious rift within the English branch of the family."

Evelyn Rothschild, for his part, rebuilt N.M. Rothschild by appointing a number of reputable bankers. Michael Richardson, a partner at Cazenove, was one of them. He helped the bank secure the position of lead underwriter in the sales of shares in state-owned firms like British Gas Plc and British Petroleum Plc because of his friendship with Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister from 1979 to 1990.

Additionally, Rothschild assisted the company's growth in China, where it opened a Beijing office in 1999.

In 1989, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him. He served as one of the queen's financial advisors for a long time.

“No one is tighter at spending than the queen," he told the London Evening Standard in 2017. “She grew up during the war. Very disciplined."

According to the website of the Rothschild Archive, an independent charitable trust, Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild was born on August 29, 1931, the only child of Anthony Gustav de Rothschild and the former Yvonne Cahen d'Anvers.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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