New Duke of Westminster not ready to take over helm

Hugh Grosvenor, aged 26, doesn't feel experienced enough to chair Grosvenor Group

The seventh Duke of Westminster Hugh Grosvenor with his late father, the sixth Duke of Westminster

The seventh Duke of Westminster Hugh Grosvenor does not feel ready to follow in his late father’s footsteps by taking on the role of chairman of Grosvenor Group.

His dad Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor died aged 64 almost one year ago on August 9, 2016, after suffering a heart attack while walking on his Abbeystead estate near Lancaster.

His son Hugh, 26, took on the title at roughly the same age as his father, who was aged 27, but does not yet feel experienced enough to take over the helm of the Grosvenor empire.

The fell above Abbeystead where the Duke of Westminster is believed to have been out walking with a gamekeeper when he suffered a heart attack

A Grosvenor Estate spokesperson said: “In terms of the chairmanship, the chairman of the Grosvenor Estate trustees is much better held by a member of the family than by any of the other trustees but at age 26 Hugh feels he should gather some experience before taking up the role and so it has been agreed with him that the other trustees will chair meetings by rotation until he has such time and experience to take it on.”

And in a statement issued in March, Jeremy Newsum, the recently retired executive trustee of Grosvenor Estate, revealed Hugh is being treated as an equal to his sisters Lady Tamara, Lady Edwina and Lady Viola in all respects other than his inheritance of the title.

Jeremy Newsum, executive trustee of the Grosvenor Estate and the late Duke of Westminster.

He wrote: “The family have adjusted the concept of primogeniture so that although the title and the responsibility of being ‘head of the family’ continue through the male line, in other respects the four children are treated as equal.”

Mr Newsum added: “The seventh Duke of Westminster inherits the title. His voice will be important and increasingly significant over time but ultimate control of the assets runs wider than him – to the trustees – just as his father ensured that for himself as well.”

And he hit out at press coverage in the wake of the sixth duke’s death which suggested the new duke had avoided significant inheritance tax (IHT) on the £9.52bn legacy because the estate is held in a trust.

The 7th Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, arriving for a memorial service to celebrate the life of his father, the sixth Duke of Westminster at Chester Cathedral. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

“Headlines like ‘the Duke managed his affairs to avoid paying tax or IHT’ do make my blood boil because they are wrong,” he said. “There are big issues to be faced regarding excessive pay for executives and the yawning wealth gap but using the Duke of Westminster as justification is to take aim at the wrong target.”

The outgoing executive trustee also paid this tribute to the late duke, who is buried at St Mary’s Church, Eccleston , near Chester and the family seat of Eaton Hall.

He wrote: “The duke demonstrated unfailing trust in his colleagues at all levels in the organisation and that has been repaid through the loyalty and commitment shown by so many over the years.”

Jeremy Newsum, executive trustee of the Grosvenor Estate, the late Duke of Westminster, and Mr Newsum's successor Mark Preston

Mr Newsum added: “His ability to talk to everyone in the same manner was natural and unforced – perhaps the result of his army training or his rural upbringing in Northern Ireland.

“Above all, and relevant to my own role in particular, the duke managed to strike just the right balance between involvement, encouragement and freedom to operate, which we all valued highly.”

In his last line he proffered the following words of wisdom: “My final piece of advice to my successor, Mark Preston and Hugh, 7th Duke of Westminster, is to invest as much time as possible in developing their relationship so that the good work of this family can continue.”

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