The Duke of Westminster has died today at Royal Preston Hospital in Lancashire after being taken ill at his nearby country estate.
A spokeswoman for Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor’s family, who are estimated to be worth around £8 billion, confirmed his passing in a statement issued this evening.
The Duke, who is Prince William’s godfather, suddenly fell ill at his Abbeystead Estate, accoring to the spokeswoman.
He was one of the UK’s leading landowners and was listed as the world’s 68th richest man in Forbes magazine, amassing a fortune of £8.3 billion, making him the UK’s third wealthiest person.
The spokeswoman said: “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.
“No further comment will be made for the time being but further information will follow in due course.”
The Duke of Westminster suddenly took ill at his Lancashire estate
The Duke, who is Prince William’s godfather, reportedly owned 190 acres of land in London’s upmarket Belgravia neighbourhood.
His holdings include plush shops in Mayfair and a hunting ranch near to Seville in Spain.
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge went on holiday with Prince George to the Duke’s estate in the south of France as recently as late July.
The couple have regularly borrowed the Duke of Westminster ‘s eight-seater jet for private trips and holidays.
The Duke and his wife Natalia on their wedding day in 1979
The 64-year-old’s official title was the Sixth Duke of Westminster.
The former Army general also owned 96,000 acres in Scotland and many more across England.
His son, Hugh Grosvenor, 25, is now the Seventh Duke of Westminster, and is Prince George’s youngest godfather.
The Duke’s wife Natalia is godmother to the young Prince.
In January it was announced his most senior aide in his company Grosvenor Estate would retire at the end of the year.
The Duke was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 2012 – a personal gift from the Queen – and he was also a Knight of Garter and a Companion of the Order of the Bath as well as being an executor of Princess Diana’s will.
He claimed to not care deeply about his vast wealth, saying: “I’m not interested in material things, honestly. It would drive me bonkers if I thought too deeply about it.”
He faced embarrassment in 2007 when the News of the World exposed his use of prostitutes, claiming he spent up to £2,000 a time for sordid romps, during which he spoke candidly about military information and even asserted he knew the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden.