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Royal rifts, A-list guests and a very mysterious bride-to-be: the Duke of Westminster’s high society wedding – Yahoo News Australia

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Next time you walk down a London street: look around. Every time you see a handsome green sign attached to a building it means that you are stomping on the turf of the Duke of Westminster.

Set to marry his long-term girlfriend Olivia Henson, 30, this Friday (June 7) in Chester, his won’t just be the society wedding of the year, but for many years to come too.

Not only is Hugh Grosvenor, 33, the richest man in Britain under forty, owning 300 acres of tip-top London with a cool £10.42 billion under his belt, he also holds the distinction of being godfather to both sons of the warring princes William’s Prince George and Harry’s Archie. It is set to be one hell of a party.

“The Grosvenors have traditionally been a pretty introverted bunch,” says a local family friend. “But they do two things very well: shoot at things and throw parties. Oh and buy land I suppose”. This is certainly true of Hugh. Born Earl Grosvenor (“Hughie” to friends), he became the 7th Duke of Westminster in 2016 when his father, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, who was the UK’s third richest person at the time, died. However, apart from a “splendiferous” 21st birthday bash in 2021, where Michael McIntyre was hired to crack jokes, the Rizzle Kicks to sing songs, and was rumoured to have cost £5 million, the duke is remarkably low key.

The couple announced their engagement at Eaton Hall in Cheshire in April last year (Grosvenor2023/PA) (PA Media)

The couple announced their engagement at Eaton Hall in Cheshire in April last year (Grosvenor2023/PA) (PA Media)

Unlike the majority of his peers (of the realm at least) Hugh was educated as a day boy at local schools — Mostyn House School, Cheshire and Ellesmere College, Shropshire — until he went to Newcastle University to study Land Management. Since then, apart from public appearances to do with his various charities, and representing the UK at skeet shooting in the Olympics, the demure duke has kept a very low profile. Until this weekend, that is.

“We haven’t been told much”, says one soon-to-be guest. “The great thing about having it in Chester Cathedral is that there isn’t that awful thing of staggering guests. You know, having the categories: B listers for after the ceremony and C listers for after dinner. As far as I know everyone is invited to the service”. However, although it is true that four hundred guests are expected at the cathedral, there are in fact set to be two receptions. There is the big one on Friday after the service and, says a source, “I believe there is to be another gathering on Saturday for tenants, estate workers and local friends”.

The venue, Eaton Hall, a mock French chateau set in 10,872 acres of Cheshire (50 acres of which is elaborate formal gardens) is where the couple intend to live after they are married, and is the perfect place for a party. My mother, who went to the wedding of Hugh’s aunt Lady Leonora Grosvenor to the photographer Patrick Lichfield in the seventies, says, “it’s a brute of a house but ideal for weddings”.

There are endless little huts and grottos which will all be made use of somehow or another — very good for bad behaviour

While a guest at Hugh’s older sister Lady Tamara’s wedding to Edward Van Cutsem (“Van”) in 2004 says, “Yes it is perfect. There’s a long canal at the back of the house which is amazing for light displays and fireworks and things. There are also endless little loggias, huts and grottos which will all be made use of somehow or another. Very good for bad behaviour too”.

The couple have been scrupulous about not giving away details of the reception and “we have also been asked not to do any social media posting when we get there”, says a guest, so this is what can be deduced. It is likely to be a green event, both Hugh and Olivia are eco minded. Olivia, who went to Marlborough College (like the Princess of Wales and Princess Eugenie), is senior account manager at Belazu, an environmentally friendly B-corp which imports chef-quality, sustainably-sourced ingredients. While Hugh has proved his green credentials many times since taking over the Grosvenor Estate, which has increasingly started to initiate various eco-friendly practices, including renewable energy projects, green building codes and biodiversity conservation efforts.

Prince William is set to be an usher at the wedding but Prince Harry has RSVPed no (Getty Images)Prince William is set to be an usher at the wedding but Prince Harry has RSVPed no (Getty Images)

Prince William is set to be an usher at the wedding but Prince Harry has RSVPed no (Getty Images)

What this means is that the flowers and food for the wedding are not just set to be sustainably produced but will also be locally sourced. This too is in keeping with the couple’s passion for the surrounding county. “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”, said Olivia. There is also an element of tact in dealing with local vendors, as Chester is set to be brought to a virtual standstill on Friday, with a huge number of roads and shops closed and around 100 policemen on duty. When Lady Tamara married there an estimated 4,000 people lined her route. While like Bethlehem there is not a room at pub, inn or hotel to be had for love nor money in the city. Unsurprisingly the Chester Grosvenor was booked up lock, stock and barrel shortly after the engagement was announced.

The guest list is a source of great speculation, even among invited guests. Although neither Hugh nor Olivia are regulars on the party scene, there will be no shortage of glamour. We’ll start with the royal element. First the Princes: we know that while Prince William is set to be an usher, Prince Harry will be a no-show. But why this is depends on who you listen to. Either it is because “Harry was NFIed. Too awkward,” or alternatively, because he got a Save the Date but when he heard that the Prince of Wales had been asked to be an usher and not him, he turned down the invitation in a rage. Recollections may vary.

The Princess of Wales won’t be able to attend the wedding due to ill health (PA Wire)The Princess of Wales won’t be able to attend the wedding due to ill health (PA Wire)

The Princess of Wales won’t be able to attend the wedding due to ill health (PA Wire)

This is not the first royal row to surround a Grosvenor wedding. King Charles refused to attend the wedding of Lady Tamara, despite being great friends with both the Grosvenors and the Van Cutsems because he was not to be allowed to sit next to his then girlfriend Camilla Parker-Bowles. It is sadly unlikely that either the King or the Princess of Wales will make this wedding because of ill health.

The guest list will not be short of other high-profile guests though. Hugh’s three sisters Lady Tamara, Lady Edwina and Lady Viola will be there with their three glamorous husbands. Banker and horse breeder Edward Van Cutsem, historian heartthrob Dan Snow and dashing Royal Scots Dragoon Guard Angus Roberts. There will be plenty of glitzy cousins too, including Lady Eloise Anson who is married to Louis Waymouth, an actor and writer for James Corden’s The Late, Late Show; and It-boy about town Galen Crawley. Many of the fellow Cheshire swells are likely to be there too, such as film-maker the Marquess of Cholmondeley and his beautiful wife Rose, who’s ancestral home Cholmondeley Castle is down the road.

It’s thought Prince George will be a pageboy (PA)It’s thought Prince George will be a pageboy (PA)

It’s thought Prince George will be a pageboy (PA)

There is a certain air of mystery surrounding who is set to be bridesmaids and pageboys. Recent Grosvenor and royal precedents have tended (with the notorious exception of Pippa Middleton) to opt for little train-followers. Rumours have swirled that Hugh’s godson Prince George will have made the cut, and it is virtually certain that the children of Hugh’s two older sisters, Jake (14), Louis (12), and Isla Van Cutsem (9) and Zia (12), Wolf (10), and Orla Snow (9), will march with Olivia up the aisle.

Although no expense will be spared, my insider predicts that it is likely to be less formal than past family weddings. “The speeches for instance. While it is fair to say both Van Cutsems and Snows are comfortable with the sounds of their own voices. I don’t call them windbags but… Hugh is very taciturn. I am not sure of the Henson faction, but I would bet that things are kept briefer than they have been in the past”.

The enigma of Olivia, and her family has only added to the heightened sense of mystery surrounding the wedding

The enigma of Olivia, and her family (all that anyone seems to know is that her father Rupert is a stockbroker and that she has two siblings Jasper (29), Emilia (26)), has only added to the heightened sense of mystery surrounding the wedding. Though it is set to be a day of surprises for guests and onlookers alike, there is one thing we can know for sure, it will be a right ducal knock-out.

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