news

Watch Royals arrive at Chester Cathedral for Duke of Westminster's Memorial Service

Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William and Kate are among 1,400 guests to attend the service 

Crowds gathered outside Chester Cathedral in a dignified atmosphere to pay their respects to the sixth Duke of Westminster at a memorial service attended by two future kings of England.

Major General Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor died aged 64 on August 9 after suffering a heart attack while on the fell at his shooting estate in Lancashire, despite efforts to save his life.

A private funeral took place at St Mary’s Church, Eccleston , near Chester, on August 12, close to the Grosvenors’ ancestral home of Eaton Hall.

Shortly afterwards it was announced a memorial service would be held for the wider community to say their goodbyes, with around 1,400 guests in attendance this afternoon (Monday, November 28).

A Chronicle archive picture of His Grace Gerald Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster. Date unknown

Duke of Westminster's daughter Lady Edwina Snow reads emotional tribute to father at memorial service

When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge climbed out of their Range Rover outside Chester Cathedral there was an audible if muted cheer of support from spectators who attended in large numbers on a crisp and clear winter’s day.

Prince Charles and Camilla, who followed shortly afterwards, also received a warm reception.

In a friendly gesture, the first in line to the throne, a life-long friend of the late Duke, smiled and waved towards the crowd who waved back. Princess Eugenie of York, representing The Duke of York, was also present as were overseas royal family members from Greece and the Middle East.

The Grosvenor family and in-laws arrived as one in a VIP mini-bus. On board was the late Duke’s widow, Natalia Grosvenor, the Duchess of Westminster, and their son Hugh, who has inherited the title as seventh Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor empire.

The late Duke’s daughter Lady Edwina and her husband Dan Snow, the TV historian, were aboard along with their young family. Dan’s father Peter, the former BBC Newsnight presenter was in a separate vehicle.

For the Duke’s eldest daughter, Lady Tamara , the service was in complete contrast with the fairy-tale wedding she enjoyed when she wed Edward van Cutsem at the cathedral in 2004 in front of her parents but also the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh as well as Princes William and Harry.

Last but not least was Lady Viola , the baby of the family, wearing a beautiful green velvet dress.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Chester Cathedral(Image: Ioan Said Photography)

Hugh, the seventh Duke of Westminster, played a major role in the service by reading his father’s favourite poem, If, by Rudyard Kipling, His sister Lady Edwina read her own, ‘A letter to my father’, an excerpt from which reads: “You taught me so much. Fight for what you believe in. Don’t ever give up. If you are knocked down, dust yourself off...and get back on your feet.”

The late Duke had a public falling out with the Conservative Party many years ago and tore up his party card. But it didn't stop former Tory party leader Iain Duncan Smith turning up to pay his respects.

Prince Charles and Prince William among guests at Duke of Westminster service

Well known local guests at the service, conducted by Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Professor Gordon McPhate , included Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Cllr Samantha Dixon , Tory opposition leader Cllr Lynn Riley , Lord Mayor Angela Claydon, Deputy Lord Mayor of Chester Cllr Razia Daniels , Chester Race Company chief executive Richard Thomas , Rector of Chester the Rev David Chesters and Cllr Myles Hogg , the Sheriff of Chester.

Also present was Simon Radley, award-winning head chef at The Chester Grosvenor hotel, owned by the Grosvenor family.

There were military and civic representatives, charities and the clergy, together with pensioners and staff of the Grosvenor Estate including beaters and gamekeepers dressed in their traditional attire.

Tributes were given by Jeremy Newsum, executive trustee of Grosvenor Estate, who spoke of his long business partnership with the late Duke; General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman, director of the national rehabilitation centre for injured soldiers which was the brainchild of the late Duke – who spoke about the late Duke’s military career – and Andrew Hay, a close family friend and relative.

Guests arriving at the 6th Duke of Westminster's Memorial service: Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are welcomed by the Very Rev Dean of Chester Gordon McPhate(Image: Ioan Said)

City MP Chris Matheson , who attended, said afterwards: “It was a nice service. There were three lovely tributes from people who knew the Duke from very different walks of life.”

One member of the public, Anthony Welsh, who watched from the outside, travelled to Chester from Liverpool with his dog Princess Cleo conveyed in a Union flag-clad buggy.

He said: “We came to show our respects for the royals in general and for the Duke because he was a great man who put big money into Liverpool – £1.2bn of his own money – building Liverpool One which has enlived the whole place. It’s a thriving city because of his input and foresight.”

Chester in lock-down as royals awaited at Duke memorial service

Security was extremely tight for the service with armed police in evidence both on the ground as well as in roof-top positions. In the event, proceedings went without a hiccup.

Donations in the Duke’s memory can made to The Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre by visiting: www.thednrc.org.uk

View full mobile page