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Duke of Westminster wedding: Who are Hugh Grosvenor and Olivia Henson? – The Telegraph

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It has been billed as the most royal, non-royal wedding of the year.

Indeed, in different circumstances, the pews at Chester Cathedral would have been filled with senior members of the Royal family as the Duke of Westminster ties the knot with Olivia Henson.

The groom finds himself in the unusual position of being godfather to Prince Archie, five, as well as Prince George, 10, and is one of very few who has maintained links with both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex.

He and Prince Harry are understood to have spoken on the phone and agreed it best if he stays away from the wedding amid ongoing tensions with his brother.

Who is Hugh Grosvenor?


Hugh Grosvenor, the 7th Duke of Westminster, was once referred to as “Britain’s most eligible bachelor”


Credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press

Hugh Grosvenor, the seventh Duke of Westminster, was once referred to as “Britain’s most eligible bachelor” thanks to his close links to the Royal family and his title as one of the country’s richest men.

But the 33-year-old Duke will be officially taken off the market on Friday when he marries Olivia Henson in Chester Cathedral.

It comes almost a decade after he inherited his title from his father Gerald in 2016, as well as the control of a fortune worth an estimated £10 billion that includes a sprawling global property empire, countless business investments and an enviable art portfolio.

The young Duke, who insists on colleagues calling him Hugh, is described by those who have worked with him as a “very authentic person” who is passionate and has a “genuine love of the land”.

In keeping with his country roots, the couple will be celebrating their nuptials with a reception at the beloved family estate in Cheshire, the sprawling 11,0000-acre Eaton Hall, where the Duke also oversees his award-winning farm.

Chester, where the Duke grew up, remains very important to him and to Ms Henson and it is where the couple plan to “lay down the foundations of their future” after the wedding.

The Duke’s is a future that encompasses being chairman of both the Grosvenor Trustees and the Westminster Foundation, the latter of which represents the charitable interests of the family and Grosvenor businesses.

The property portfolio inherited from his father, who died of a heart attack aged 64, includes more than 1,500 properties in 60 countries, the crown jewel being more than 300 acres of Mayfair and Belgravia.

Upbringing

The Duke’s upbringing does not necessarily speak to the wealth that surrounds his title, as he did not go down the traditional Eton and Oxbridge path like many of his contemporaries.

One relative previously told The Telegraph: “Hugh is a stable pair of hands.

“His mum, Tally [Natalia, a descendant of George II], was keen on the children having a more normal upbringing, so almost consciously didn’t want them to go to all those Eton, Harrow sort of places and risk turning into that arrogant, entitled type of person.”

Instead, he was locally educated at Eccleston Primary School, a state school near Chester, before attending Ellesmere College and later studying countryside management at Newcastle University.

He then began a career working for one of the family’s subsidiary investment groups, specialising in food and agriculture.

Charitable nature

Those close to the Duke say his real interests are philanthropic and environmental, which is why the Westminster Foundation, helping to support young people in London, Lancashire and Cheshire, is so important to him.

His father once said of Hugh: “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.”

The Duke seems to have taken the words to heart, exercising his charitable nature through various different outlets.

In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, he donated £12.5 million for Covid relief and another £1 million to the University of Oxford for mental health research.

He is president of the Country Trust, a national charity supporting disadvantaged youths’ access to farming and nature, and has led a major fundraising campaign for the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre, which supports the rehabilitation of seriously wounded or injured members of the Armed Forces.

One of his focuses is on helping vulnerable children and young people to access opportunities that will help them thrive in life, and he works closely with Storyhouse in Chester to do so.

Kate Mylchreest, the development director of Storyhouse, told The Telegraph: “I think he’s got a real passion for making a difference to young people.

“He’s always been quite clear that he knows there isn’t one thing that can be done and that it’s about having lots of different organisations that can support and provide opportunities for young people to live the best and most fulfilling lives they can.

Friend of the Prince

In his private life, the Duke has represented Team GB at Olympic skeet shooting competitions and is understood to be continuing to pursue his ambitions as an elite sportsman.

His family’s portfolio includes a 23,500-acre Abbeystead shooting estate in Lancashire, as well as Reay Forest in Sutherland, Scotland, and a 37,000 acre estate outside Seville, in Spain, where Princes William and Harry have visited to hunt. When Hugh was born, the then-Prince Charles gave him three shotguns.

The Duke is close to the Royal family and is the godson of King Charles, as well as godfather himself to both Prince George and Prince Archie.

Hugh Grosvenor and Prince William in 2004


The Prince of Wales will be an usher at the wedding of his close friend


Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo

The Prince of Wales will be an usher at the wedding of his close friend in Chester, but the Princess of Wales is not expected to be in attendance as she continues her cancer treatment.

His friends the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will also not be among the 400 guests, although he is the godfather of Prince Harry’s five-year-old son.

The Duke and Ms Henson have opted for a “strictly no-gifts policy” for their guests and have put sustainability at the heart of the ceremony, including in their choice of Flower and Press for the floral arrangements.

Who is Olivia Henson?

Olivia Henson, the soon-to-be wife of Hugh Grosvenor, the seventh Duke of Westminster, is the bride at the society wedding of the decade.

The 31-year-old, who will become the next Duchess of Westminster, grew up between London and Oxfordshire and was introduced to the Duke through mutual friends in 2021.

The couple dated for two years before he proposed on his family’s 11,000-acre estate, Eaton Hall.

The bride is understood to be passionate about health, nutrition and the environment and has built her career in the sustainable food sector.

Her schooling is littered with royal links, having attended Marlborough College, the Princess of Wales’ alma mater, at the same time as Princess Eugenie.

She later studied Hispanic studies and Italian at Trinity College Dublin, while the Duke received his degree from Newcastle University.

Passion for sustainability

Ms Henson has worked at an artisanal food company in London, Belazu, since 2019 and before that has worked for other organisations within the sustainable food and drinks industry, such as the pressed juices company Daily Dose.

Her professional trajectory is said to be closely linked with her personal passions and her drive to champion sustainable practices in food production and consumption.

She is also understood to have a strong interest in creating positive social change through various charitable roles, including through her role on the Board of Trustees of the Belazu Foundation.

The foundation works with communities in the UK and around the Mediterranean to promote education and healthy eating and inspire future generations.

The Duke of Westminster and Miss Olivia Henson chat with members of Studio by Storyhouse in Chester


The Duke of Westminster and Miss Olivia Henson chat with members of Studio by Storyhouse in Chester


Credit: Grosvenor 2024

As the new Duchess of Westminster, she will also assist the Duke with his charity work and the couple have already undertaken engagements in the city together ahead of their nuptials.

The soon-to-be newlyweds have made it clear that they want to put their roots down in Chester and once they do so they are keen to help the cathedral city thrive.

Speaking at their most recent charity visit in Chester in May, Ms Henson 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.”

The bride-to-be added that it had been “an easy decision” for the couple to make.

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