Raising the future

Philanthropist Dora Loewenstein is unwavering in her support for the mental wellbeing of the younger generation

People 21 Nov 2023

Princess Dora Loewenstein is backing a research-based initiative that supports children’s mental health

Princess Dora Loewenstein is backing a research-based initiative that supports children’s mental health

Say the name Princess Dora Loewenstein and most would imagine a glamorous, globe-trotting, wealthy aristocrat. After all, as the daughter of Rupert Loewenstein, who managed the Rolling Stones’ finances, Dora spent a chunk of her childhood in Mustique, while growing up in a Grade II-listed house in Petersham. Yet her lifestyle was only a veneer, masking a dedicated philanthropist with a hard head for business.

Rupert was a partner at Leopold Joseph (the Stones were among its clients) before setting up his own private wealth management business. Dora spent much of her early life working with her father, sometimes touring with the Stones, and becoming a fêted event planner.

When her father developed Parkinson’s disease at the age of 68, and was eventually unable to continue working, Dora was quick to find a way of keeping his firm going. ‘I was at a party with a friend, Mark Cunningham, whose private equity firm had recently been sold. Mark looked rather grey-faced and not so happy with his new set-up, so I took the opportunity to suggest forming a partnership with my father at Rupert Loewenstein Investments,’ she says.

Over the next three years, Dora worked with Mark, watching helplessly as her father’s health deteriorated. When he died aged 80, Mark and Dora formed Holbein Partners LLP, a private wealth management firm, with three other partners. ‘Our own family money was in the firm,’ says Dora, ‘and our focus from the get-go was succession planning. Looking after the next generation’s money was our USP. Kids born into wealthy families don’t have it easy – there’s a huge amount of pressure and I was interested in helping kids deal with the psychology of inheritance.’

Princess Dora Loewenstein
Princess Dora Loewenstein

In 2021, Holbein merged with the American company AlTi Tiedemann Global. ‘The company’s really forward-thinking and understands how important it is to look at the human side of wealth. You can’t expect a big inheritance to be run by people not mentally fit for the job and I’ve seen so many families struggling to manage their wealth when something’s gone wrong with the succession plan – be it addiction or other problems.’

Dora had always been aware of troubled children: ‘My mother was involved with the NSPCC and I used to visit foster homes with her. Later, as an event planner, I did a lot with the NSPCC, including the huge “Dream Auction” dinner at the Albert Hall in 2004. The night saw the launch of one of the first-ever online auctions for charity, partnering with eBay and raising over £500,000 that contributed to the overall £5.5 million the night brought in.’

Dora also organised fund-raising gala dinners for Ark, the charity dedicated to transforming children’s lives through education, and worked for Alan Parker, then chair of Save the Children, staging fund-raising events at the Roundhouse. ‘Every year we’d do a music night with a different genre, starting with a Night of Blues in 2011, right up till May 2019, before Covid kicked in,’ says Dora.

In 2018 Holbein sponsored a talk at The Royal Society, hosted by Sir John Bell, Regius Chair of Medicine at Oxford University, comprising a panel of four professors from the university’s Department of Psychiatry and the mental health campaigner Rachel Kelly. It was such a success that Saffron Wace offered to sponsor a series of webinars over lockdown. Dora’s commitment to teenage mental health grew and she started working with BrainWaves, along with Richard Addis, founder of The Day, the online newspaper for primary and secondary schoolchildren.

With Oxford University, BrainWaves is undertaking the largest-ever study of wellbeing among 5,000 pupils aged 11 to 19, using a state-of-the-art Secure e-Research Platform, hosted by the University of Swansea. The first lessons on depression, anxiety and sleep have begun to be downloaded by schools in their thousands, showing the dire need for educated discussion around these issues in the classroom.

‘The value of this research is incalculable,’ says Dora, ‘otherwise we’ll just go on operating in the dark and our children will go on suffering the biggest mental health crisis we’ve ever seen. Raising money for this research is not easy as there are no quick fixes. It’s going to take time and all the brilliant minds Oxford can throw at it.’

In May this year, Dora organised an event in London to launch BrainWaves, raising over £500,000. The most passionate philanthropist would be forgiven for not possessing the tenacity to persevere so stalwartly with such an ambitious project. But Dora will not be discouraged: ‘What could possibly be more important than the next generation’s mental health?’ she asks.