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Prince William and Kate Middleton's close friend makes generous £1m donation to COVID-19 appeal

The Duke of Westminster is Prince George's godfather

Jenni McKnight

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's close friend, the Duke of Westminster, has made a very generous donation to Oxford University's research into the impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of the nation. Hugh Grosvenor, the seventh Duke of Westminster, boosted the university's funding with a £1million donation. The grant will help the work of the university's Department of Psychiatry, which is examining the pandemic's effect on a range of areas from anxiety and stress, to individuals being disconnected from their social, family and work lives.

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The Duke, who is Prince George's godfather, said: "Mental health can affect anyone, anywhere. This crisis presents new and difficult challenges to so many people; whether that's clinicians and key workers on the front line, grieving families, children struggling to understand social isolation, or anyone already suffering from anxiety or other mental health issues.

"While the impact of this crisis is being felt immediately, the longer-term mental health impact of Covid-19 could potentially be devastating if not addressed. I am really interested in Oxford University's innovative mental health programmes, particularly the impact of the pandemic on youth mental health. These projects are vital pieces of work and will benefit us all as the effects of the virus become more apparent."

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The Duke of Westminster has donated £12.5million in total

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The funds are part of £10million donated in April by the Duke, with the majority of the money earmarked to support the health service through NHS Charities Together to provide respite, rehabilitation and mental health assistance to NHS staff and their families. Hugh has donated £12.5million in total through his charitable body the Westminster Foundation for the Covid-19 response and recovery - £2.5 million of which went mostly to charities providing essential food distribution to vulnerable families.

Professor John Geddes, head of the university's Department of Psychiatry, said: "We are enormously grateful for this generous gift which will enable us to scale up our research projects, especially into how Covid-19 is affecting young people's mental health. I'm delighted how quickly and expertly our researchers have responded to this global threat. The pace of development means that funding them has been a challenge, and this donation is critically important."

Hugh's father, the late Gerald Grosvenor, was a close friend of the royal family. Hugh became the Duke of Westminster upon his father's death in August 2016 and is the world's richest person under the age of 30. He was named as one of Prince George's godfathers at the royal tot's christening in October 2013.  

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