Britain’s wealthiest landowner and friend to the royal family, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, died today, a spokeswoman for his estate said.
The 64-year-old died at Royal Preston Hospital in Lancashire, England after developing a sudden illness at his home, Abbeystead Estate.
“It is with the greatest sadness that we can confirm that the Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor died this afternoon at Royal Preston Hospital,” a statement from his estate says. “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.”
Many best know the late Duke as the third richest Briton, with a net worth estimated at £ 9.35 billion – or $ 12.15 billion, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2016. He also owns several acres of property near Buckingham Palace, in some of London’s priciest neighborhoods.
He served in the British Army for nearly 40 years, eventually obtaining the rank of Major General. He is survived by his wife, Natalia, their four children, Tamara, Edwina, Hugh and Viola, as well as four grandchildren.
Throughout his life, he was close to several members of Britain’s royal family, including Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince William and Princess Kate. His wife, Natalia, is one of Prince William’s godparents.
His only son, 24-year-old Hugh Grosvenor, will inherit his title, as well as the bulk of his father’s wealth, and become the 7th Duke of Westminster. Royal fans may recognize his name: He’s one of Prince George’s godparents.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.