Duke steps into father's pounds 8.3 billion shoes at age of 25

The new Duke becomes the third richest person in the UK and the 68th wealthiest in the world.

Published: 11th August 2016 08:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2016 08:05 AM   |  A+A-

LONDON: It is not something he would have at all wished for himself, but at the age of 25 Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor has been left contemplating the fact that overnight he has become Britain's most eligible bachelor.

Following the sudden death of the Duke of Westminster at the age of 64 on Tuesday, the young account manager has inherited his father's title and estate, making him one of the richest men in the world.

Until now the new Duke had lived a life of relative obscurity for someone so gilded - save for a memorable 21st birthday party rumoured to have cost several million. But his sudden elevation will put him in the spotlight as never before, raising the question; just who is the seventh Duke of Westminster?

By inheriting the bulk of his father's fortune, estimated at pounds 8.3?billion by Forbes, the new Duke becomes the third richest person in the UK and the 68th wealthiest in the world.

The new Duke will not pay inheritance tax because the Grosvenor estate is run as a trust, much like a company, rather than being his personal property. Trustees, including the Duke, must instead pay tax on the income they receive.

At the heart of the family fortune is a property portfolio which includes 300 acres in two of London's most expensive neighbourhoods, Mayfair and Belgravia, as well as huge tracts in Oxford, Cheshire, Scotland and Spain.

The former Duke spoke 1992 of how he was seeking to teach his son "self-discipline and a sense of duty".

Among the first decisions the new Duke will be required to make is whether to abandon the family's Glorious Twelfth shoot tomorrow on the Abbeystead estate, in Lancashire - where his father was taken ill - or carry on as normal in tribute to the late Duke.

Even though Hugh was born to huge wealth, and was brought up amid the splendid surroundings of Eaton Hall, the family's 10,872-acre Cheshire estate, his parents tried to endow him with as normal a childhood as possible.

Along with his three sisters he was educated at a state primary school on The Wirral before attending a private day school, Mostyn House. The children later attended Ellesmere College in Shropshire, which charges fees up to pounds 10,296 a term.

Hugh, whose previous title was Earl Grosvenor, studied countryside management at Newcastle University, and later studied at Oxford.

After graduating, he worked in estate management for his father's Grosvenor Group, before becoming an accounts manager at bio-bean, which collects waste coffee and converts it into biofuel.

But it was inevitable that Earl Grosvenor would come to public attention and he did so in some style.

The occasion was his 21st birthday party in 2012, held at Eaton Hall and rumoured to have cost as much as pounds 5?million. Prince Harry was among the 800 guests, who were entertained by the comic Michael McIntyre and the hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks.

Photographers were banned and the security was so tight that vehicles taking guests to the party had been sealed with tape to prevent gate-crashers.

The following year, Hugh became godfather to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first child Prince George.

The Cambridges said yesterday that they were "very sad to learn" of the Duke of Westminster's death.

It is only as a result of Britain's ancient laws of primogeniture that Hugh has inherited his father's title. He is, after all, preceded by his older sisters Lady Tamara, 36, who is married to one of the Duke of Cambridge's closest friends, Edward van Cutsem, and Lady Edwina, 34, the wife of television presenter Dan Snow.

By virtue of being a boy, however, Hugh now inherits both the title and the estate, although his sisters - including the youngest, Lady Viola, 23 - will benefit from substantial trust funds.

Things might have been different had a Bill seeking to introduce equal rights of succession for all first-born children made it through parliament.

The "Downton Abbey law" - named after the plot involving Lady Mary's exclusion from inheriting the estate - was drafted in 2013. But the Bill failed to make it past the committee stage, meaning all eyes are now on Hugh Grosvenor, seventh Duke of Westminster.


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