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Meet the down to earth billionaires

He loves football, parties and saving the planet. And Hugh Grosvenor is now one of the UK's richest men, after the sudden death of his father

By Susannah Butter

Published 11/08/2016

Inheriting wealth: Hugh Grosvenor
Inheriting wealth: Hugh Grosvenor
Lady Viola
Billionaire landowner: the Duke of Westminster has died aged 64
Family ties: Lady Tamara with her husband Edward van Cutsem

Despite inheriting a fortune, the new Duke of Westminster, known to friends as Hughie, is in many ways a typical 25-year-old, interested in football, parties and saving the planet.

From a young age he has dedicated himself to managing the estate in a responsible way, studying countryside management at Newcastle University to better equip him to deal with his inheritance. At school he was reserved, like his father, but made friends at university and is a "fiendishly good dancer", according to Tatler. Now one of his key projects is bio-bean, a pioneering green company that turns coffee grounds into bricks that create energy.

He supports Chelsea and until now was mainly known for his 21st birthday party, held in the gardens of Eaton Hall, his parents' Cheshire estate - which he also inherits. Rizzle Kicks got the 800 guests, including Prince Harry and Hugh's three sisters, dancing to a hip hop beat while comedian Michael McIntyre provided light relief. It set him back £5m (a mere fraction of his £9bn worth).

Tradition and modernity mix easily when Hugh is around - the dress code for his 21st was "black tie and neon". A source says "it is understood guests who insisted on giving a present were invited to add to Hugh's wine collection". When he was born, Prince Charles gave him three shotguns. Now Hugh is godfather to Prince George.

The Grosvenor family have always been close to the royals, but remained private. The extended family are more glamorous. Cousins include photographer Patrick Lichfield and Louis Waymouth, who writes Carpool Karaoke with James Corden.

Unusually for an aristocratic family, the Grosvenors didn't send their children to boarding school. Instead, they attended a private co-ed school called Mostyn House on the Wirral, which has since closed.

Lady Edwina, the second eldest at 33, has said: "I had such a happy home life and childhood. I don't think it is healthy to send a child away at seven." There was some teasing; a teacher asked Edwina, "if I kidnapped you, how much ransom would your father pay?" but generally the children got on well with everyone.

The Nineties were difficult for the Grosvenors, who were protective of their children. Father Gerald became depressed due to his heavy workload and their mother, Natalia Phillips, was diagnosed with breast cancer, but has since made a good recovery. She is a direct descendant of both the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and King George II. But the family rallied and became tighter than ever.

The aristo-sista

Meet the young Duke's sister acts. The eldest is Lady Tamara (34). She worked on a farm in New Zealand in her gap year, just as her father did when he left Harrow, and then studied religion at Newcastle University. In 2004, she married Prince William's close friend Edward van Cutsem, creating an alliance with another aristocratic family.

Hugh van Cutsem, Lady Tamara's father-in-law, was a close confidante of Prince Charles and Prince William was an usher at Tamara and Edward's wedding in Chester Cathedral. The van Cutsems say it was Tamara and Edward's wedding that prompted Charles to formalise his relationship with Camilla.

"Protocol dictated that Camilla and Charles were seated separately at the wedding," said a friend. "Charles was furious. He announced their engagement three months later."

Now the younger generation are taking over. Grace van Cutsem, the cherubic bridesmaid at William and the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding, is Lady Tamara's niece. Keep up.

The prison reformer

Lady Edwina (33), is Princess Diana's god-daughter and shares her philanthropic drive. An acquaintance describes her as "serious and hardworking" and her main preoccupation is prison reform. She became interested in it at 12 when her father took her and Tamara to a drug rehabilitation centre.

He was worried that they would spend their money on drugs, so introduced them to heroin addicts to see what their lives were like. She studied sociology and criminology at Northumbria University and now, as a trustee of The Clink Charity, she has spent millions of pounds trying to help offenders transform their lives and is the driving force behind The Clink restaurants in prisons, which give inmates the opportunity to cook and be waiters.

Lady Edwina gives rousing speeches about the project. She has said: "Employers nowadays can't reject applicants merely because they are gay or disabled, and I believe the same criteria should apply for ex-offenders. A job should go to the best person available...

"I get a real buzz when I visit the restaurants. Everyone said the plan wouldn't work and it has."

There's a Clink restaurant in Brixton and ambassadors for the project include Giorgio Locatelli, Jamie Oliver and Antonio Carluccio.

She has said that she "sees common ground between misconception of criminals and the aristocracy.

"The general public put labels on us both and make sweeping generalisations that are quite wrong. There are some very damaged aristocrats who battle with addictions.

"People who have masses of money can go very wrong. They just hide it better, or have efficient PR machines."

But she's fun too and likes to wear different coloured nail varnish on each finger. She married TV historian and thinking woman's crumpet Dan Snow in November 2010, although she doesn't feel the need to wear a wedding ring to show her commitment.

He came along after she had been single for four years, worried that people only liked her for her money.

In 2008, she was sat next to Snow at a wedding and had no idea about his TV work, but they hit it off. He asked for her number but didn't call, so two months later she texted and it went from there.

Now they live in the New Forest with their daughter Zia (5) and son Wolf Robert (2). A Gurkha couple keep the house and gardens in good shape.

The baby of the family

The youngest is netball and hockey fiend Lady Viola (23).

At the moment she works for St Vincent's Family Project in Westminster and Kidscape, on the ZAP programme which supports young people who are being bullied.

She wants to train as an art therapist and eventually set up her own charity to help young people.

The children like her - she's spending the summer at festivals, kitted out in tight tie-dye, face covered in glitter. She looks up to her older siblings and they are helping to guide her through her 20s.

Belfast Telegraph

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