Duke of Westminster, billionaire Mayfair landowner and philanthropist, dies aged 64

The Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, died on Tuesday afternoon aged 64 after being taken suddenly ill at his Abbeystead Estate in Lancashire.

According to Forbes, the Duke was reportedly worth £8.3 billion, making him the third richest person in the UK and the 68th richest in the world. The Duke owned swathes of land in London, incorporating parts of Mayfair and 190 acres of land in Belgravia, two of London’s most expensive districts. The Duke also owned substantial property in more than 70 cities worldwide. Some of the family’s portfolio derived from property held since 1677.

Whilst the word ‘philanthropy’ is generally no longer associated with Belgravia and Mayfair, the Duke was famous for his altruism, not only through personal donations, but also through the estate’s well-established Westminster Foundation. The Duke famously paid thousands to some of his workers to help them meet the poll tax which was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1990 (which he described as ‘insufferable’) as well as donating £500,000 to farmers during the foot and mouth crisis in 2001. The Duke also proposed the idea for, and personally led the fundraising for, the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre near Loughborough. This is due to open in 2018 and provides a centre for the care and rehabilitation of members of the Armed Forces. The Duke reportedly personally contributed £50 million towards the centre.

The Westminster Foundation, the estate’s charitable giving arm, has also donated to over 1,500 charitable organisations since its inception in 1974, awarding over £40 million in grants. The Foundation’s focus for the coming year is to support communities and youth homelessness.

He leaves a lasting legacy that has benefited the lives of many, and is hopefully an inspiration to a new generation of philanthropists.