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Her maternal-grandfather was Antony Fisher, founder of many libertarian think tanks, including the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and the Adam Smith Institute. Her mother is Linda Whetstone who has been involved with several of Fisher's think tanks. Raised in East Sussex, Whetstone attended Benenden School and then read politics at Bristol University.
On graduation she joined Conservative Central Office, advising then-Home Secretary Michael Howard. She entered the private sector, with One2One and Portland PR, before returning to Westminster in 2003 as Political Secretary to Howard when he became Conservative Party leader. When Howard stood down following the general election in 2005, she returned to the private sector later that year joining Google in California.
After an affair with William Astor, 4th Viscount Astor (stepfather to Samantha Cameron), in the lead-up to the 2005 election, Whetstone met fellow Conservative strategist Steve Hilton. The couple married after the election, and were godparents to Ivan Cameron, the late eldest child of David Cameron, the British Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party.
- Giles Hattersley (26 March 2006). "Power couple behind the new Tory throne". The Sunday Times.
- BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
- Power couple behind the new Tory throne from the Sunday Times.
- Article by Adam Curtis about think tanks, featuring Rachel Whetstone from the BBC
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