Duke of Westminster: Prince Harry pulled out of Hugh Grosvenor’s wedding after realising ‘challenges of attendance’ – The Independent

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Prince Harry decided against attending the society wedding of the year after acknowledging the difficulties his presence would cause, it has been claimed.

After months of speculation, sources close to the Duke of Sussex told People magazine that he had spoken privately to his longtime friend, the Duke of Westminster, about the challenges of his attendance before they mutually came to the decision.

Given his strained relationship with his brother Prince William, who is serving as an usher, the decision avoids any awkward run-ins which could have overshadowed the big day.

The Duke of Westminster is due to marry his partner Olivia Henson in Chester Cathedral (PA)

Described by The Times as the “most royal non-royal wedding of the year”, Hugh Grosvenor, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, is due to marry Olivia Henson on Friday (7 June) at Chester Cathedral.

Friends since childhood, the source told the US magazine that Harry sends “love and support and admiration” for the couple’s wedding day.

While invited to the nuptials, he recognised the challenges of his attendance and the decision not to travel from California for the event was an “understanding between two friends”.

The decision eliminated the possibility of William having to show him to his seat – part of his role as usher – despite the brothers’ estrangement of the last two years.

Harry and Meghan Markle have led a strained relationship with the royal family since 2020 (REUTERS)

People, the only publication officially invited to accompany Harry and his wife Meghan Markle on their recent trip to Nigeria, noted that transatlantic travel to the UK is difficult for the prince because of security challenges.

Since stepping back as working royals in 2020, the Sussexes have been stripped of around-the-clock protection and must apply to the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office in advance.

They can no longer use their former Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, although Harry was offered a place to stay in a royal residence during his trip to London last month.

The couple have had a strained relationship with their royal relatives ever since a series of bombshell interviews and Harry’s memoir, Spare, which detailed the tension between him, William and their father, the King.

Despite the awkwardness, the duke, known to those close to him as Hughie, is one of the few friends who has maintained a close relationship with both brothers.

Prince William will be an usher at the society wedding (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

The 33-year-old has long had close associations with the monarchy and is the godfather of both William and Kate’s eldest son, Prince George, 10, and Harry’s son, Archie, five.

He is himself the godson of King Charles, while his mother, the Dowager Duchess of Westminster, is a godmother to the Prince of Wales.

The King is not expected to attend the nuptials, given his ongoing cancer treatment and his recent appearance at the D-Day commemorations, while Kate is recuperating at home from chemotherapy.

Beginning at noon on Friday, thousands of supporters are expected to take to the streets of Chester to celebrate the happy couple, while 400 guests are expected to attend the cathedral srvice.

A wedding reception will take place at the family’s nearby country home, Eaton Hall on the Grosvenors’ 11,000-acre estate, where the couple have revealed they plan to settle down.

Hugh Grosvenor is one of the few friends to maintain a close relationship with both brothers (Oli Scarff/PA) (PA Archive)

Explaining his reasons for eschewing the capital in favour of his Cheshire home, the Duke said it was a “really easy decision” to leave and hopes to put down roots in the area with his soon-to-be new wife.

“It’s obviously a place where we will live,” he said.

“We’ll be building our lives together and we’re slowly transitioning to move up from London and be much more permanent here and really putting roots down. So, yes, it was a really easy decision in the end.”

Once described as Britain’s most eligible bachelor, Mr Grosvenor met his new wife through friends and they announced their engagement in 2023.

Other prominent guests due to attend the wedding include his sisters, Lady Edwina and Lady Tamara, and their husbands, broadcaster Dan Snow and banker Edward van Cutsem, who is a close friend of both princes.

Since inheriting the Grosvenor Estate in 2016, after the sudden death at the age of 64 of his father, Gerald Grosvenor, his wealth has come under much scrutiny.

Estimated to be worth around £10.127 billion, he owns roughly half of Mayfair and is officially the richest man in the UK under the age of 40.

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