British financier Evelyn de Rothschild dies aged 91

British banker Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, who expanded the family bank and advised the late Queen Elizabeth II on financial matters, has died aged 91.

“Sir Evelyn died peacefully [on Monday] at his home in London after a short illness,” the family said on Tuesday.

The businessman who trained racehorses dedicated 42 years of his career to his family’s bank. From 1982 to 2003 he ran Rothschild’s Continuation Holdings, the group as a whole.

In 1968 he was appointed director of the French bank de Rothschild Frères and eight years later he was chairman and managing director of the London-based international investment bank NM Rothschild until 2003 when he oversaw the merger of the French family and UK branches.

NM Rothschild, now the UK arm of Rothschild & Co, increased its total wealth from £40 million to £4.6 billion during his tenure, Tuesday’s statement said. He expanded the number of offices worldwide from 15 to over 50.

Rothschild handed management of the family business to his cousin David in 2004, and four years ago David’s seventh-generation son Alexandre ran the 200-year-old group.

Sir Evelyn was known for prioritizing family control over expansion.

“The humanistic side of banking is gone,” he told the Financial Times in 2017. “You know the name of your doctor but not the name of your bank manager. There are certain things in life where you need to have a human relationship.

“Perhaps we should return to the semaphore days. Think how nice it was, with a horse and carriage.”

After retiring, with his wife Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who survives him, he focused on philanthropy and EL Rothschild, the family’s investment company. The couple counted Bill and Hillary Clinton among their friends and spent a honeymoon night at the White House.

A young Evelyn de Rothschild with her family strolls through Hyde Park in London

A young Evelyn de Rothschild, left, with her family in 1937 © Alan Webb/Fox Photos/Getty Images

Rothschild, knighted by the Queen in 1989 for services to banking and finance, has held numerous jobs in both the private and public sectors.

A former chairman of The Economist for more than 17 years, he served as the late monarch’s financial adviser and established the Eranda Rothschild Foundation to fund social welfare and medical research. From 1977 to 1988 he was Head of Medical School at St Mary’s Hospital in London.

A chocolate lover, Rothschild founded a short-lived luxury confectionery brand in later life.

He told the FT at the time that his sweet tooth could be attributed to being evacuated to Long Island, New York, during World War II and his first job was working on a soda fountain at a drug store in Westhampton.

“I was paid a dime a day and could eat as much chocolate as I wanted,” he recalls.

He was born in London in 1931 to Anthony de Rothschild and Yvonne Cahen d’Anvers of the Bischoffsheim family of banks. British financier Evelyn de Rothschild dies aged 91

Adam Bradshaw

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