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Akshata Murthy: UK’s First Lady

Learn English with Akshata Murthy. Britain’s Indian First Lady made an unexpected appearance on the political stage to introduce her “best friend” Rishi Sunak as he delivered his first speech as UK Prime Minister. In this heartfelt talk, Akshata offers a glimpse into their life together, and what drives Rishi to serve his country. Daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy, 43-year-old Akshata met Rishi while they were studying at Stanford University. Discover the values and aspirations that bind them together.

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Akshata Murthy | Quote

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“Strength of character matters.” Akshata Murthy

Akshata Murthy | FULL TRANSCRIPT:

I just got away with good morning. We’re almost at good afternoon. But yes, you’re absolutely right. I’m not on the agenda for today. A bit of a surprise addition, shall we say. And a surprise for my husband too, who has no idea what I’m going to say.

When I told our lovely girls, Krishna and Anushka, about being here today, they were also quite surprised. But look, the reason why I’m here is really quite simple. And it’s because Rishi and I are each other’s best friends. We’re one team. And I could not imagine being anywhere else but here today with all of you to show my support to him and to the party.

Now, as you’d expect, there’s been a lot about Rishi in the media about who he is, what he likes, what he doesn’t like, what motivates him and so forth. Now some of it is accurate. I’m afraid he does love a good rom-com. The cheesier, the better even. And some of it is not so true. So you’ll be relieved to hear that episodes of Emily in Paris are not informing his outlook on the EU.

But in all seriousness though, as we gather here today to look to the future of the UK, I’m so grateful to have this chance to talk to all of you about the man who is leading us there. Now, let me start with one word that sums up my husband, and that is aspiration. Aspiration runs through his DNA like it does this party’s. Aspiration is what drove his family many years ago to move to the UK. And aspiration is what drives Rishi, to build for a better country and a better life for all our young people to look forward to.

Rishi and I met when we were 24, when we were both studying abroad in America. Right from the very beginning, I was struck by two things about him. No, not his smart suits or his love for hoodies. He actually didn’t own either back then. But two much more important things. His deep love for his home, the United Kingdom, and his sincere desire to ensure as many people as possible have a chance to have the opportunities he was lucky enough to have had, it completely energized him.

At the time, I wondered if this passion was just youthful optimism. Today, I’m not sure youthful optimism is a term you can still use about a man in his 40s. But Rishi’s energy and passion for the future of this country are as strong as ever. That is why he has been a lifelong conservative. That is why he entered politics almost a decade ago. And that is why it is the greatest honor imaginable for him to be Prime Minister, leading the country and the party he loves.

As I said earlier, getting together with Rishi almost 20 years ago was not the easy route. It meant, in our early days together, a complicated, long-distance relationship. But let me tell you, on the other hand, being with Rishi was the easiest decision of my life. He’s fun, he’s thoughtful, he’s compassionate, and he has an incredible zest for life. But what drew me to him most was his strength of character, his honesty, his integrity, with a firm understanding of right from wrong. It’s what I’m still drawn to even today, after 14 years of being married.

As you may know, Rishi is the son of a GP and a pharmacist. His parents moved to the UK from East Africa with very little, but they built here a life for themselves and for their children. For Rishi’s dad, being involved in his patient’s lives beyond the doctor’s surgery was a big part of how he saw his role. Rishi’s mom trained as a pharmacist, and years later, after saving enough to open her own shop, she too went above and beyond the call of duty to build deep-rooted relationships with her customers. It meant Rishi and his younger brother and sister grew up in a household entrenched in their community in Southampton, and they were wholly devoted to it. That love of community grew in Rishi too, from a very young age, as the most natural extension of how he sees home. And that connection with people is the source of his political life.

Rishi cares deeply about this party and the values that underpin it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the support you’ve already shown him and for the warm welcome you’ve given our young family. Please know that Rishi is working hard to do the right thing for the country, not just for now, but for the long term, with honesty and with integrity. That is why he has told some hard truths already. And knowing him, he’ll continue to do so. He shares your values, and he knows how much you care about the future of the UK, but also about the struggles and the challenges that people are facing today and the potential we all see in a better tomorrow, not just for a few, but for everyone in our country.

Just as with our girls, he wants the next generation to grow up in a country that offers them opportunity and hope, a country that helps them build rock-solid foundations with a deep respect for hard work and the confidence to fulfill their potential, and a love for community in all its forms. Sometimes when the going gets tough, I remind Rishi that he’s fighting for his values, that he’s fighting for this party’s values, knowing that it’s a hard road ahead, but success is hard won. Rishi, you know this. You know that doing the right thing for the long term, even when it’s hard, is the right thing to do. And I hope you also know how proud you make our girls and me every single day.

Akshata Murthy