The Duke of Westminster, close friend to the royals, has passed away

Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, was not royalty. But he was close to royalty all of his life, and he was arguably in a much better position than most royal figures. He was worth billions, mostly from extensive real estate holdings, and he was a greatly respected figure in the UK. The Duke of Westminster passed away following a short illness yesterday. He was one of Prince William’s godfathers, and the Duke often allowed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge the use of his private plane. Will and Kate last used his plane on Friday, when they returned home from their French holiday.

Britain’s wealthiest landowner and friend to the royal family, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, died today, a spokeswoman for his estate said. The 64-year-old died at Royal Preston Hospital in Lancashire, England after developing a sudden illness at his home, Abbeystead Estate.

“It is with the greatest sadness that we can confirm that the Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor died this afternoon at Royal Preston Hospital,” a statement from his estate says. “He was taken there from the Abbeystead Estate in Lancashire where he had suddenly been taken ill. His family are all aware and they ask for privacy and understanding at this very difficult time. No further comment will be made for the time being but further information will follow in due course.”

Many best know the late Duke as the third richest Briton, with a net worth estimated at £ 9.35 billion – or $ 12.15 billion, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2016. He also owns several acres of property near Buckingham Palace, in some of London’s priciest neighborhoods.

He served in the British Army for nearly 40 years, eventually obtaining the rank of Major General. He is survived by his wife, Natalia, their four children, Tamara, Edwina, Hugh and Viola, as well as four grandchildren.

Throughout his life, he was close to several members of Britain’s royal family, including Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince William and Princess Kate. His wife, Natalia, is one of Prince William’s godparents.

His only son, 24-year-old Hugh Grosvenor, will inherit his title, as well as the bulk of his father’s wealth, and become the 7th Duke of Westminster. Royal fans may recognize his name: He’s one of Prince George’s godparents.

[From People]

My gossip radar is blinking a little with “he had suddenly been taken ill.” What kind of illness would come upon someone so quickly? Or was he sick for a while and it just took a turn for the worse in the past week? The Daily Mail explains it this way: “He is believed to have suffered a heart attack at his grouse shooting estate, Abbeystead House in Lancashire.” Wow, that must have been a massive heart attack. Poor guy.

So now we have the new Duke of Westminster, who is 25-year-old Hugh Grovenor. The DM is already running glowing profiles of Hugh. In just one day, a 25-year-old is suddenly worth billions, all because of aristocratic primogeniture. I wonder how much money the daughters get after their father’s passing? Hugh has three sisters and I wonder if they’ll be allowed to stick around the family’s many residences? Also: Hugh doesn’t have a girlfriend. Too bad Pippa Middleton is engaged now, I’m sure she would have loved to try for Hugh.

Photos courtesy of Getty.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

66 Responses to “The Duke of Westminster, close friend to the royals, has passed away”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Squiggisbig says:

    I’m sure Carole Middleton is asking her son if he is absolutely sure he likes women right now.

  2. Jegede says:

    Hugh is 25.

    And is an afficionado of hip hop music.

    I’m off to Norfolk!!

    (His sisters Tamara & Edwina are very socially conscious down to earth girls. Much more substantial that the vapid Bonas crew)

  3. Cee says:

    My godmother passed away recently in just 3 days. It was a shock and hard to process and understand.

    I hope his son gets all the support he can get – not only has he lost his father, but he now has to deal with everything that comes with his aristocratic title.

    I certainly hope his sisters got a fair share of the wealth! No son is worth more than a daughter. No daughter is worth more than a son.

    • Paula says:

      I’m very sorry for your loss, Cee.

      I hope his son was being groomed for the role, it must be a huge responsability to deal with all that money.

    • dodgy says:

      His sisters supposedly will get a LOT of money in individual trusts.

    • Egla says:

      I read that all of his children are well educated and the boy has a degree in land management, estate management from a university there or something to that effect meaning he has been groomed for this day. Also his late father has said that he was aware that his son was born privileged but that he would install in him sense of duty and humility. His wealth has been accumulated through hard work and good luck and he was a no sense man. I think the boy will be fine management wise.
      The girls also will get money or better money have been invested since their birth apart from the estate. That’s how it’s done (I have read somewhere) so the bulk of the money goes to the heir but the girls also get something without touching his.

  4. notasugarhere says:

    Small correction Kaiser. The 6th Duke was not William’s godfather, his wife Natalia was one of William’s godmothers. The new Duke, Hugh, is one of W&K’s son’s godparents.

  5. Betti says:

    How sad, he was quite young but his father passed suddenly at a youngish age as well. My sympathies to the family. Sometimes these things are hereditary and he may have had other health issues that haven’t been disclosed.

    As for Pips, am sure if he was a bit older (or she younger) she would have been right in there long ago. And am sure the Buckets will continue to tap the youngster to fund their holidays using his jet and properties.

    • LAK says:

      Without a blush those 30somethings Buckets will continue to tap the 25yr old Duke for pleasure trips, planes and anything else.

    • MinnFinn says:

      Pippa will get a 2nd chance at an aristo when that set has their 1st and 2nd round of divorces. BTW, as far as I’m concerned the Scottish title bought by her future FIL is not bonafide.

  6. Vava says:

    A massive heart attack can kill quickly. Or a blood clot, too – that’s how my FIL died. It traveled from his leg to his lung and that was it for him.

    The family must be in real shock at the moment.

  7. Tourmaline says:

    From recent pictures he looked like he lost tons of weight in the past year.

    Reading about him he sounds like a good father to his 4 kids and as down to earth as the richest landowner in Britain could be. Very protective and would not send his kids to boarding school (not that boarding schools are bad, but it was against the grain not to send them). Took his kids to visit prisons and to learn about the other side of life, which led to his daughter Lady Edwina Grosvenor being a passionate prison reform advocate.

    • LAK says:

      Going by his pictures in the last year, i’m doubtful that this heart attack was surprising even if it was sudden. He lost ALOT of weight in the past year.

      • HappyMom says:

        Yes-he definitely does not look well. He looks to be a contemporary of Prince Philip’s rather than 30 years younger.

    • Tourmaline, you have voiced exactly what I came here to say. I had not even looked at the “before this year photos”, but looking at this guy, the nurse in me thinks that there is more to this story than meets the eye. He looks very frail for 64, and in these photos, is swimming in those suits he’s wearing. Even if he did have a heart attack, my inner diagnostician thinks that something was ticking away in the background.

      • Tourmaline says:

        I just read an item from the “Chester Chronicle” online, the local newspaper for the area where the family seat is, that he was a longtime heavy smoker that quit over a decade ago, and had a lung tumor removed in 2012. Statements at the time say it was caught at an early stage.

  8. Clare says:

    Actually it is usually only the ducal land/ estates that are entailed – so the Duke could have left as much of his other holdings and/or cash to his daughters. The only thing that must go to the new Duke are the lands attached to the title – everything else is up to the will he left behind.

  9. Yup, Me says:

    It would suck to inherit billions and become the next duke at 24/25. Especially with social media when privacy is so hard to maintain. I don’t envy that guy at all.

  10. Ronaldinhio says:

    His father Gerald, was a great man and I am sorry to hear about his passing. I hope that the new Duke of Westminster is equally great.

  11. Manjit says:

    Oh, what a shame. I met him quite a few times through work and he was a lovely gentleman.

    • Tourmaline says:

      It’s nice to hear he was as lovely in person as he comes across in what is being written about him.

    • Guesto says:

      @Manjit – I also met him a number of times (addiction charity work-related) and he really was a genuinely good and engaged man who took his (reluctant) privilege very seriously and strived to do good with it. I also know one of his daughters and she’s a real testimony to his ‘privileged engagement’.

      RIP to this lovely man and condolances to his lovely family.

      • JustBitchy says:

        Thanks to both. All of the info on the Duke indicates a lovely man. May his family find comfort in his good works and may his son have the support around him to take in the role.

  12. LAK says:

    All jokes aside, 64 seems like such a young age to go nowadays.

    So sad for everyone who loses a parent no matter the circumstances, but i’m especially sad when said parent is so young.

    • MAK says:

      I follow this site frequently – but my first time commenting. I lost my father a week ago…. It was sudden – we lost a hale and hearty man in 10 minutes…

      sorry – I meant that as a new comment and not as a reply – my bad..

    • ZIZABET says:

      I think it equally depends on the country. in my country, people die so early and often due to expensive and un accesible medical care. i agree however that 64 is quite young.
      Might I add that i enjoy reading your very enlightened comments and FLORC’s too. i wonder where she is

      • notasugarhere says:

        She left a couple months ago, to post mostly on KateMiddletonReview under a new name. I haven’t seen her on there in awhile and I miss her too!

  13. Tourmaline says:

    Hopefully Kate and William can pull themselves off permanent vacation to pay their respects at his funeral (BOTH of them attending). If not that would be extremely tacky to say the least. Especially because they were so recently availing themselves of his private plane.

    • Betti says:

      Yes, very. Thou it was a smart move making the now new Duke one of George’s god parents, thus making sure that they can continue to avail themselves of the Duke’s wealth and assets. And yes my opinion is that low of these 2 shameless twits.

    • MinnFinn says:

      I can hear Willy telling the young Duke ‘Certainly I will be in attendance, what time will your private jet be coming around to fetch me?’

  14. QQ says:

    Can I say fr fr the tone of these chuffed speculations of who’s gonna land a young geeky young cat that just lost his father a bit….mmmm tacky? groddy? like Honey isn’t cheering down the street about catching this title? IDK

    • LAK says:

      You are right. And right to shame us.

    • Jegede says:

      You’re right.

      I will add that stories of the Duke’s health has been doing the rounds for some years (as well as his extreme weight loss). So hopefully the family were somewhat prepared for this tragedy.

    • Guesto says:

      Agree, QQ – the tone of this thread is horribly off and in really bad taste.

    • Elaine says:

      eh…I’m still going to speculate about little Hughie (who looks like a Keebler Elf) and his possible girlfriend/wife WHILST expressing my deepest condolences. Like a gossip Ninja.

    • notasugarhere says:

      Speculation about the wealthiest heir in Britain’s eventual marriage didn’t start with his father’s passing. The first estate has been obsessed with who-marries-whom and genealogy since the creation of “nobility” in the high middle ages. Many of them are still obsessed with it today. One of the reasons they stay where they are? Because they marry each other.

      Billionaires Santo Domingo and Borromeo marrying Monaco princes.

      Princess Caroline marrying Ernst of Hanover, eventually. A match her mother, Princess Grace, put forward long before Caroline married her first husband.

      39 year old Santo Domingo billionaire marrying 25 year old daughter of the Duke of Wellington.

      Jigme and Jetsun in Bhutan likely being a semi-arranged match. He dated her cousin first, astrology was off, but the family was royal-adjacent and noble. He married Jetsun, his brother married Jetsun’s sister.

      6th Duke of Westminster marrying a descendant of Romanovs.

  15. Tiffany says:

    It is wrong that when I read this headline my mind went straight to the Doolittles and how they might have to start paying for travel.

    • cerys says:

      That thought had crossed my mind too as im sure it has with others. Just shows what poor opinions we hold about the Dolittles

  16. spidey says:

    The Treasury will be rubbing its hands at the thought of the death duties.

  17. Talie says:

    The van Cutsem boy who married Tamara went from dating models to her for a reason…he got paid to “maintain her lifestyle.” You can check theroyalforums for that tea. The girls make out fine.

  18. Assf says:

    Correction: the duke of westminster was royalty. He has a title…duke…to he passed down to his son

    • LAK says:

      Westminster isn’t a royal title. It’s a peerage title. There is a difference. Whilst peerage titles were granted by the crown holding one didn’t mean one was royal. It simply elevated you into the aristocracy as a peer of the realm.

      Dukes are the highest title one can hold in the peerage and as such are more special than other types of titles.

      Currently there are 24 non royal ducal titles, including Westminster, plus 7 royal ducal titles in use.

      One can be a duke without being royal, just as one can be royal without being a duke. Here is list of royal ducal titles.

      Here is the background to the Westminster Ducal title.

      Westminster is a hereditary title which will continue to be passed down to each succeeding son as long as they continue to produce males. Our peerage laws are still bound by primogenature. The last hereditary title was granted in 1990 to Denis Thatcher – a Barontcey. If they ran out of male heirs, the title reverts back to the crown.

  19. MinnFinn says:

    This Duke was a complicated guy and he seems to be somewhat of a hypocrite when it comes to what he said about supporting charitable causes versus how he spent his own money.

    For example, when his son Hugh was born, he said “He’s been born with the longest silver spoon anyone can have, but he can’t go through life sucking on it. He has to put back what he has been given.” But when the boy turned 21, the Duke spent $6 million on his birthday party.

    New York Daily News says back in 2008, the Duke was exposed as a client of prostitutes in the same scandal with Eliot Spitzer.

    And then there is Natalia, his grieving widow. I swear I see the physical results of a few hundred years of aristo inbreeding in that set, especially in the women’s thin lips and shape of their chins. Natalia reminds me of Kate in that they both look hard as nails.

    • Tourmaline says:

      Wow the Duke and the prostitution ring is news to me. And there is a lot of …detail in that Daily News article!
      Natalia has some kind of ancestry with Russian nobility I recall. I think she looks a lot like Diana’s sister Lady Sarah Spencer (McCorquodale) who also has a hard look. The Duke dated Lady Sarah back in the 70s but the gossip was he dumped her and she found solace with Prince Charles, who Lady Sarah dated for awhile…

      • LAK says:

        She’s a direct descendant, 4 generations removed of Tsar Nicholas 1 of Russia which means she’s also closely related to Philip, DoE and therefore the Mountbatten-Windsor branch of the royal family.

      • MinnFinn says:

        The 5th Duke of Westminster married his 2nd cousin in 1946. I read that this morning.

        LAK or anybody — Since you grew up in the UK, can you give any insight as to why the aristos are not creeped out about marrying so close in their family tree? And also do they think their genes are so superior that the problems with inbreeding does not apply to them?

        And iirc Queen Liz is Phillip’s 2nd or 3rd cousin. And Phillip played matchmaker for his niece named Knatchbull and that relationship got serious enough for Chuck to propose to her.

    • spidey says:

      Oh dear, oh dear.

    • Tourmaline says:

      @MinnFinn if you go back to a few royal generations ago marrying your first cousin was all the rage! Queen Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert. King Haakon of Norway (formerly Prince Carl of Denmark) married King Edward VII’s daughter, who became Queen Maud of Norway. They were also first cousins. There have to be a ton more examples but it is ick…

      There is a good article in the DM today on Duke of Westminster by Geoffrey Levy and Richard Kay. Talks about the hooker scandal, etc. that I didn’t know about until your post on it!

  20. cerys says:

    By all accounts, he was a nice man who took his responsibilities seriously and did a lot for charity in a quiet way.
    I hope his son has been groomed to take over and will not squander his enormous wealth and privilege. He has been portrayed as a party boy in the media but i dont know how much is true.
    Im sure the Dolittles will exploit any generosity he may have.

    • MinnFinn says:

      I have to disagree about him being a nice man ‘by all accounts’ because he was caught cheating with prostitutes in 2007 and again in 2008 which brought a lot of embarrassment and undoubtedly hurt to his wife and kids. All the London newspapers covered it then and all have briefly mentioned it again in the last few days.

      This account from News of the World was archived by a blogger.

  21. raincoaster says:

    The family also owns quite a lot of real estate in Vancouver. Perhaps a billion dollars’ worth.

  22. Kaz says:

    Does anyone know where the private funeral service was held?