More than 1,400 people attended a memorial service for the late Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor, in Chester yesterday, including Prince Charles and Prince William, and the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge.
The sixth Duke of Westminster, owner of international property company Grosvenor, died suddenly in August at the age of 64. The family’s country seat is at Eaton Hall in Cheshire, outside Chester.
Delivering one of the eulogies at the memorial, held at Chester Cathedral, was Jeremy Newsum, non-executive director of Grosvenor, who celebrated the Duke’s success in growing the business from its London roots into a global property company with £14bn of assets. Newsum said the Duke had been particularly proud of his role in the regeneration of Liverpool, through the construction of the £1bn Liverpool ONE retail district. The Duke was worth £9.35bn according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2016.
Speaking to Place North West, an attendee of the service, who asked not to be named, said it was a “fitting send off for the Duke”.
“The main message was that he did the right thing, he was a good man and he stood by his commitments.”
The hour-long memorial was attended by members of the Royal family, senior politicians including Iain Duncan-Smith, business associates and friends of the Duke.
There were extensive road closures throughout Chester city centre to allow for access to the service and form a secure zone for VIPs, particularly around the Cathedral and the nearby Chester Grosvenor Hotel, where guests gathered beforehand to be transported to the memorial via cars and mini-buses. Armed guards were visible on the roof of the Cathedral, keeping watch throughout the afternoon.
Crowds lined the streets for some “Royal spotting”, but maintained a calm and respectful atmosphere. The royal family made an unassuming entrance by a side door of the Cathedral; muted cheers met the arrival of Prince Charles and Camilla, while audible gasps from the crowd greeted Prince William and style icon Kate, the highlight of many spectators’ day.
The Duke’s heir Hugh, widow Natalia, three daughters and grandchildren, were joined by Princess Eugenie of York, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and the Duke of Kent. As part of the service, Hugh gave a reading of his father’s favourite poem, ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling.
Despite the cold, many members of the public held position outside the Cathedral for more than three hours in the hope of spotting the Princes and their wives. Onlooker Jeanette Rogers had come along with her husband, who had worked for the Duke at the Grosvenor Hotel for 23 years. She told Place that, having met the Duke twice, he was “a very nice man, very caring”.
Claire, who gave only her first name, travelled from Wales with her family for the occasion, taking her eight-year-old son out of school for the day in order to give him “a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the future King”.
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