Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster

His Grace
The Duke of Westminster

Photographed by Allan Warren in 1997
Personal details
Born Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor
(1951-12-22)22 December 1951
Omagh, Northern Ireland[1]
Died 9 August 2016(2016-08-09) (aged 64)
Preston, Lancashire, England
Spouse(s) Natalia Phillips
Children Lady Tamara Grosvenor
Lady Edwina Grosvenor
Hugh Grosvenor, 7th Duke of Westminster
Lady Viola Grosvenor
Parents Robert Grosvenor, 5th Duke of Westminster
Viola Lyttelton
Residence Eaton Hall, Cheshire
Known for Landowning
Property development
Religion Anglican
Civilian awards Knight of the Order of the Garter
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Other titles Earl Grosvenor (1967–79)
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1973–2012
Rank Major General
Unit North Irish Horse
Commands Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets) (2004–07)
Deputy Commander Land Forces (Reserves) (2011–12)
Military awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Efficiency Decoration
Volunteer Reserves Service Medal
Canadian Forces Decoration

Major General Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, KG, CB, CVO, OBE, TD, CD, DL (22 December 1951 – 9 August 2016) was a British landowner, businessman, philanthropist, Territorial Army general and hereditary peer. He was the son of Robert George Grosvenor, 5th Duke of Westminster and Viola Grosvenor. He was Chairman of the property company Grosvenor Group.

Born in Northern Ireland, Grosvenor moved from an island in the middle of Lough Erne to be educated at Sunningdale and Harrow boarding schools in the south of England. After a troubled education he left school with two O-levels. He joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served in the Territorial Army, where he was promoted to major-general in 2004.

Via Grosvenor Estates, the business he inherited along with the dukedom in 1979, the Duke was the richest property developer in the United Kingdom and one of the country's largest landowners, with property in Edinburgh, Liverpool, Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton and Cheshire, including the family's country seat of Eaton Hall, as well as 300 acres (0.47 sq mi) of Mayfair and Belgravia in Central London.[2] The business also has interests in other parts of Europe. According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2016, the Duke was worth £9.35 billion (c. US$13 billion), placing him sixth in the list and making him the third-richest British citizen.

Family and other businesses

The Grosvenor family's first development was in Mayfair, Central London, in the early 18th century; the second big development came around 100 years later and was in another exclusive part of London – Belgravia, developed by the family after the end of Napoleonic Wars and the conversion of Buckingham Palace – which is just one mile East. After developing the two parts of Central London, the family business expanded. During the second half of the 20th century, the business expanded into the Americas and developed Annacis Island and Vancouver in Canada in the 1950s. The family business started developing in Australia in the 1960s. They moved to Asia in the early 1990s and to continental Europe just before the millennium. In April 2000, the firm moved into new London offices. The business was headed by the 6th Duke, who was Chairman of the Trustees.[3]

The Duke was also Director of Claridge's Hotel from 1981 until 1993, and of Marcher Sound from 1992 until 1997.[4]

Early life

As a child the Duke lived on an island in the middle of Lough Erne (Ely Lodge, Blaney, Co. Fermanagh). His early education was in Northern Ireland before he attended Sunningdale and Harrow boarding schools in England. Because of his Irish accent, the Duke struggled to fit in at Harrow, and his education suffered.[5] Consequently, he left school with two O-levels in history and English.[6][7]

Military career

As the Earl Grosvenor he joined the Territorial Army in 1970, as a trooper, family estate responsibilities having caused him to abandon a Regular Army career in the 9th/12th Lancers.[8] After entering RMA Sandhurst in 1973, he passed out as an officer cadet and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve of the Royal Armoured Corps (Queen's Own Yeomanry) on 13 May 1973.[9][10] He was promoted to lieutenant on 13 May 1975 and to captain on 1 July 1980.[11][12] He was promoted to the acting rank of major on 1 January 1985 and to the substantive rank on 22 December.[13]

Promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 1 April 1992, he subsequently commanded the North Irish Horse, the Cheshire Yeomanry Squadron, founded by his ancestors, and the Queen's Own Yeomanry.[14] He was promoted to colonel on 31 December 1994 and was appointed honorary colonel of the 7th Regt Army Air Corps (1 January 1996) and the Northumbrian Universities Officer Training Corps (30 November 1995).[15][16][17] Promoted to brigadier on 17 January 2000, he was also appointed Honorary Colonel of the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry on 14 May 2001.[18][19] He was also appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Canadian Royal Westminster Regiment, the North Irish Horse, and as Colonel Commandant Yeomanry.

The Duke was Grand Prior of the Priory of England of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, 1995–2001.[20] In 2004, he was appointed to the new post of Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets), with promotion in the rank of major-general. In March 2007, having served in the Ministry of Defence as Assistant CDS for four years, he handed over responsibility for 50,000 reservists and 138,000 cadets to Major General Simon Lalor, in the wake of the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal in which Grosvenor was also implicated.[21] The Duke became Deputy Commander Land Forces (Reserves) in May 2011.[22] He retired from the Armed Forces in 2012.

Benevolent work for service personnel

The Duke was President of the BLESMA from 1992, and the Yeomanry Benevolent Fund from 2005, national Vice-President of the Royal British Legion from 1993, and the Reserve Forces' Ulysses Trust from 1995, the Not Forgotten Society from 2004, and Chairman of the Nuffield Trust for the Forces of the Crown from 1992, all until his death. He was Vice-President of the Royal Engineers Music Foundation 1990–94.[4]

In 2011, having already funded a feasibility study, the Duke purchased the estate at Stanford Hall, Nottinghamshire to make possible the creation of a Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) to provide the highest quality support for military casualties.[23] Work started on the £300m project in April 2016,[24] and it is intended that the new facilities which are under construction for completion in 2018 will replace those at Headley Court.[25][26] The Duke remained actively involved in the project until his death.[27]

He was Vice-President of the Royal United Services Institute from 1993 until 2012, President of The Tank Museum, Bovington, from 2002, and a committee member of the National Army Museum between 1988–97 and from 2013 until his death.[4]

Educational interests

Despite his poor educational start, he acquired several honorary degrees and fellowships (listed below) in later life and took an outward looking interest in youth. He was Director of the International Students Trust from 1976 until 1993, Pro-Chancellor of Keele University from 1986 until 1993, Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University from 1992 until 2002, and first appointed Chancellor of the University of Chester in 1995, serving until his death.[4]

He was a supporter of the Prince's Trust, and was a committee member of the Trust and a Patron from 2001 for North West England.[4]

Sports interests and conservation work

His main personal recreations were field shooting and fishing, and he served as President of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation from 1992 until 2000, and the Atlantic Salmon Trust from 2004 until his death, President of the Game and Wildlife Conservancy Trust for 2000–01 and Vice-President hence. He was a member of the MCC and Royal Yacht Squadron and President of Worcestershire County Cricket Club in 1984–86 and of the Youth Sports Trust 1996–2004.[4]

He was President of the committee planning the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester from 1998, and from 1991 until 1994 had been Director of the committee set up to coordinate the projected 2000 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympics that would have been held at Manchester had the British bid succeeded.[4]

Other charities and organisations

Personal life

The Duke at his desk in 1988

The Duke of Westminster married Natalia Ayesha Phillips, the daughter of Lt-Col. Harold Pedro Joseph Phillips and his wife Georgina Wernher, in 1978. His wife is a direct descendant of the Russian poet Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin and therefore of his African ancestor Abram Gannibal as well as of King George II. Their children are:

In 1998, the Duke suffered a nervous breakdown and depression, citing the overwhelming pressures of business and public life.[7]


The Duke died on 9 August 2016 at Royal Preston Hospital in Preston, Lancashire, after suffering a heart attack at his Abbeystead estate.[31][32] A private funeral attended by close relatives was held on 12 August, and a memorial service was held at Chester Cathedral on 28 November.[33]

The fact that Grosvenor's family stand to pay very little if any inheritance tax on his £9bn+ fortune has led to calls for a review of how the inheritance of trust funds and similar assets are handled in the UK.[34][35][36][37]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles





Foreign dynastic orders

Other honours

Honorary military appointments



See also


  1. "Billionaire landowner and close friend of Prince Charles the Duke of Westminster dies aged 64 after sudden illness". The Telegraph. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  2. "Grosvenor announces senior management appointments". Grosvenor. 5 April 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  3. "Billionaire landowner the Duke of Westminster dies aged 64". The Daily mail.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Who's Who. A & C Black. 2016. p. 2453. ISBN 978-1-472-90470-6.
  5. "Remembering the Duke of Westminster". Grosvenor Estate. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  6. "Desert Island Discs, Duke of Westminster". BBC Radio 4. 7 July 1995. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  7. 1 2 Davies, Caroline (10 August 2016). "New Duke of Westminster inherits £9bn fortune aged 25". The Guardian.
  8. Obituary, Daily Telegraph, 10 August 2016.
  9. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46013. p. 7556. 25 June 1973.
  10. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46419. p. 12151. 2 December 1974.
  11. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46621. p. 8373. 30 June 1975.
  12. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 48337. p. 14267. 13 October 1980.
  13. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50485. p. 5171. 14 April 1986.
  14. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52885. p. 6174. 1 April 1992.
  15. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54027. p. 6604. 5 May 1995.
  16. The London Gazette: no. 54320. p. 2559. 19 February 1996.
  17. The London Gazette: no. 54289. p. 690. 15 January 1996.
  18. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 55935. p. 8748. 8 August 2000.
  19. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56249. p. 7221. 19 June 2001.
  20. "History". Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  21. Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff steps down, Daily Mail, Retrieved 2012-03-31.
  22. "Defence Viewpoints". Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  23. "The origins of the DNRC programme". Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  24. "Stanford Hall: £300m military rehab centre work starts". BBC News.
  25. "Stanford Hall: £300m military rehab centre work starts". BBC News online 14 April 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  26. Jarram, Matt (10 August 2016). "Duke of Westminster's Stanford Hall dream still going ahead". Loughborough Echo online. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  27. "DNRC homepage film - Duke of Westminster interview from 0:28". Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  28. Louis Hugh Lupus van Cutsem, Peerage News, Retrieved 2012-06-14.
  29. Levy, Geoffrey (15 February 2003). "Diana's godchildren". London: Daily Mail.
  30. Saad, Nardine (23 October 2013). "Prince George christened; William and Kate name seven godparents". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  31. "Billionaire landowner Duke of Westminster dies". 10 August 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  32. "Duke of Westminster died of heart attack, coroner's office confirms". The Telegraph. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  33. "Private funeral held for Duke of Westminster". BBC News. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  34. Garside, Juliette (11 August 2016). "Duke's £9bn inheritance prompts call for tax overhaul" via The Guardian.
  35. "One single aristocrat just avoided more in inheritance tax than the entire NHS deficit". 12 August 2016.
  36. "Duke of Westminster's family 'will avoid paying billions in inheritance tax because his fortune was placed in series of trusts'". 11 August 2016.
  37. "Inheritance tax, and how the Dukes of Westminster avoid it on their £9bn fortune".
  38. The London Gazette: no. 50800. p. 461. 13 January 1987.
  39. The London Gazette: no. 52712. p. 17188. 11 November 1991.
  40. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53893. p. 6. 30 December 1994.
  41. The London Gazette: no. 56916. p. 5017. 23 April 2003.
  42. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58729. p. 2. 14 June 2008.
  43. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60173. p. 3. 16 June 2012.
  44. "Simon Dack Pictures". Getty Images. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  45. "Honorary Degrees Awarded" (PDF). Keele University. July 2015.
  46. "Key figures awarded Honorary Degrees and Fellowship". Harper Adams University. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
Military offices
New title Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets)
Succeeded by
Simon Lalor
New title Deputy Commander Land Forces (Reserves)
Succeeded by
Ranald Munro
Academic offices
New title Chancellor of the University of Chester
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Grosvenor
Duke of Westminster
Succeeded by
Hugh Grosvenor
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