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The heartbreaking story behind the Duke of Westminster's father's untimely death

Gerald Grosvenor was the 6th Duke of Westminster


Hugh and Gerald Grosvenor© Getty
Ainhoa Barcelona
Content Managing Editor
April 16, 2024
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There's a high society wedding on the horizon, as Hugh Grosvenor, the 7th Duke of Westminster, is due to marry his fiancée Olivia Henson in June.

The couple will tie the knot on Friday 7 June at Chester Cathedral, with the Prince of Wales and his son Prince George – who counts the groom as one of his godfathers and is rumoured to be a pageboy – expected to attend.

But who was Hugh's father, Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, who sadly passed away aged 64 in August 2016?

Prince George’s godfather Hugh Grosvenor will wed food ingredient company account manager Olivia Henson
Prince George's godfather Hugh Grosvenor will wed food ingredient company account manager Olivia Henson in June

Gerald's untimely death came as a shock to his family and friends. Hailed one of Britain's wealthiest men whose global property empire was estimated to be worth £9billion and included swaths of Mayfair and Belgravia in London, Gerald was survived by his widow Natalia and their four children Lady Tamara, Lady Edwina, Hugh, and Lady Viola.

While out walking, the late Duke suddenly fell ill on his Abbeystead Estate in Lancashire. He was airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

At the time, a Lancashire Police spokeswoman said officers were called at around 5pm. She added: "He was airlifted to hospital after he had been taken ill whilst walking in the Trough of Bowland. There are no suspicious circumstances and a file will be passed to the coroner."

Preston coroner's officer confirmed that the Duke died of a heart attack.

A private funeral service was held three days after his death. The late philanthropist and landowner was buried in the Old Churchyard at St Mary's Church, Eccleston, in the Grosvenor family plot. 

In November 2016, a larger-scale memorial service took place at Chester Cathedral.

Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster© Shutterstock
The 6th Duke of Westminster's global property empire was estimated to be worth £9billion

The Duke was a close confidante of the royal family, in particular the Windsors. King Charles asked Gerald to be a private mentor to a young Prince William, who in turn asked Gerald's son Hugh to be godfather to his firstborn Prince George.

Gerald's widow Natalia is a godmother to Prince William, while Princess Diana was a godmother to Lady Edwina.

In 2012, the late Duke was made a Commander of the Royal Victoria Order – a personal gift from Queen Elizabeth II – in addition to being a Knight of the Garter and a Companion of the Order of the Bath.

LISTEN: What Scoop's Sam McAlister really told Prince Andrew that convinced him to do Newsnight interview

Buckingham Palace released a statement following his death, confirming that the late Queen and Prince Philip were aware of his passing. "I can confirm the Her Majesty the Queen is aware of the news about the Duke of Westminster. A private message of condolence is being sent by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh," a statement read.

The then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also said in a statement that they were "very sad to learn" of the Duke's death, adding: "Their thoughts are very much with his family this morning."

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