The Dignified Way To Be A Nepo Baby

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The Dignified Way To Be A Nepo Baby

Words by Mr Samuel Muston

28 March 2023

Ever since that article in The New York Magazine exploded across the byways of the internet, the whole world and its mother seems to have dedicated its time to ferreting out every nepo baby that they can find. In case you’ve been living under a rock, bequeathed by a well-positioned ancestor or otherwise, here’s a brief breakdown of the phenomenon: a nepo baby, short for nepotism baby, is the son/daughter of someone with power or influence, which has been wielded to ensure their kin get a head start in life.

There is perhaps no greater cadre of nepo babies than those in the HBO series Succession, which follows the ups and downs of the fictional billionaire Roy clan and the general jostling between siblings to inherit their father’s media empire. To mark the start of its last season, we present MR PORTER’s guide to the etiquette of nepotism and navigating out of the shadow of parents with serious clout.


Never complain, always explain

The key to being a good person is to recognise yourself, to understand where you are from and what benefits you have derived from that. Any good nepo baby knows that they didn’t make it on their own, they inherited it, as you would a country house or nice sideboard. So, being grand or excessively mopey is an absolute no-no. Sure, you have some unusual concerns and responsibilities, but it’s not like you’ve got to spend your days down a coal mine.

I once spent an evening during Art Basel holed up in a hotel bedroom with the scion of two of 1990s Hollywood’s biggest celebrities. And, cor, how they went on. “No one knows how hard it has been for me,” was their parting-shot as they stepped into a chauffeur driven Mercedes and disappeared into the night.


Find your own lane – but don’t swerve off the road

One of the great temptations of nepo babies the world over is to “follow in the footsteps”. This is a mistake akin to the Dieppe Raid. To flourish as a person, you need to figure out what makes you happy, what stimulates the little grey cells.

Let’s face it, you are probably not going to want for money, but you may want for self-esteem. The surest way to lack self-confidence is to put your tiny paws in the big footprints of a parent with a stratospheric career. Find your own passion and plough on with it.


Stand out, but know you’re in their shadow

At the risk of committing lèse-majesté, it is fair to say that one of the most unedifying spectacles of the 1990s was then-Prince Charles endlessly moaning about his parents (when not moaning about his wife). If you don’t want to come off as a fool or knave, it is wise to accept your lot with good grace and realise that you may be in the shadow of their glory for the time being, but life is long and, if you do good and “keep buggering on”, as Sir Winston Churchill used to say, things will turn up rosy.


Never fail the waiter test

The inheritance of great wealth or great power may at times seem like a burden. But that is an appreciation confined only to those who are about to receive a piece of that particular pie. To everyone else, it looks like you are having a ball with all those huge mansions, large cars and oleaginous flunkies. So, smile, be kind, be considerate, never be rude to those who can’t answer back. Oh, and leave enormous tips. If you don’t, you definitely won’t receive a crown in the kingdom of heaven, let’s put it that way.


What would Jesus do?

Now, I preface this by saying that this is not meant to be sacrilegious. But, look, the son of the big man did somewhat set an example. Kindness, loving thy neighbour, humbleness, turning the other cheek. They are the essential components of the good life for those who will one day inherit. If only Kendall Roy could absorb some of those lessons, he would come across as less of a wally.

Perhaps the essential lesson is to not grasp for what you haven’t earned? Perhaps Messrs Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and their ilk are right – inheritance is corrupting. As Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote: “Kind hearts are more than coronets, and simple faith than Norman blood.” And Tennyson was probably right.

Future heirlooms