The sixth Duke of Westminster sadly died this afternoon (Tuesday, August 9), it has been confirmed.
Grosvenor Estate has tonight issued a statement about the death of Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, aged 64, whose family seat is at Eaton Hall, Eccleston, near Chester.
The duke, a close friend of Prince Charles, had been staying at his country retreat of Abbeystead near Lancaster when he was taken ill.
He was conveyed to the Royal Preston Hospital where he sadly died.
The statement reads: "It is with the greatest sadness that we can confirm that the Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 64, died this afternoon at Royal Preston Hospital.
"He was taken there from the Abbeystead Estate in Lancashire where he had suddenly been taken ill.
"His family are all aware and they ask for privacy and understanding at this very difficult time."
The statement concluded: "No further comment will be made for the time being but further information will follow in due course."
The duke, whose wealth is estimated at £9.35bn, is survived by his wife, the Duchess of Westminster, Natalia Grosvenor, his son and heir Hugh Grosvenor and daughters Lady Tamara van Cutsem, Lady Edwina Grosvenor and Lady Viola Grosvenor.
It must have been a proud moment for the duke when he gave away his eldest daughter Lady Tamara in a ceremony at Chester Cathedral in 2004 as she married Edward van Cutsem in front of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the young princes William and Harry, who acted as ushers.
Hearts were warmed on a drizzly day when up to 4,000 well-wishers turned up for a glimpse of Chester’s own ‘royal wedding’.
Duke had been leading a healthier lifestyle
A former heavy smoker, the duke, who became a grandfather for the first time in 2009, had a tumour removed from his lung in October 2012 but was understood to have made a good recovery.
It is believed he had been leading a much healthier lifestyle ever since. It is not known whether his death is in any way linked to his previous condition.
The Duke of Westminster, who rose to the rank of Major General with the Territorial Army, loved the army and soldiering. He joined the TA as a trooper more than 40 years ago.
In 2012 he retired as head of the Army’s reserve forces after helping to deliver the recommendations of a review into the future of Britain’s reserve forces.
He fulfilled his dream of setting up a national rehabilitation centre for injured soldiers after buying Stanford Hall in Leicestershire for that purpose in 2011, as part of an initiative he had been pursuing over many years. The facility is due to open in 2018 and will replace the outdated Headley Court, in Surrey, where patients are currently treated.
In January of this year His Grace continued his family’s long association with the Victorian Chester City Baths by performing the official reopening ceremony following an almost £3m revamp.
The duke told The Chronicle afterwards about how he kept himself fit.
"Not so much swimming, I do walking machines, power-walking,” said the duke, a once talented footballer, who had trials for top flight club Fulham FC but didn't play any more, even for fun. “I’m too old. I’m knackered,” he joked. “Bits are falling off me!”