The question of who is the Richest Person in England can be surprisingly complicated. In recent years, hundreds of jet setting millionaires and billionaires have flocked to the UK to escape fluctuating governments and escalating overseas tax rates. At first glance, if you research "Richest Person in England" you might conclude that the title belongs to Arsenal team co-owner Alisher Usmanov thanks to his $20.4 billion net worth. But technically, Usmanov is still a Russian citizen. England's true money king has an appropriately snooty title: The 6th Duke of Westminster. Also known as Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor. Grosvenor's personal net worth of $14 billion makes him by far and away the richest British person. And like most British wealth, Grosvenor earned his title the old fashioned way… He inherited it from a 400 year old trust set up by a bunch of very distant & very rich relatives.
Of course England's richest person has a title, it's just so delightfully, fussily, snottily British. The Duke of Westminster is a title created by Queen Victoria in 1875 to be given to Hugh Grosvenor, 3rd Marquess of Westminster. The Grosvenor family's influence in England dates back to the 17th century when Richard Grosvenor became Baronet of Eaton in 1622. Basically, this is a courtesy title awarded to an influential family and holding no real claim to the throne. Still, it's pretty fancy.
Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor was born in 1951 to Robert George Grosvenor, the 5th Duke of Westminster and the Honorable Viola Maud Lyttleton. He and his sisters were raised in a very remote part of Northern Ireland where they lived a simple, rural life unaffected by wealth and aristocracy. In fact, it wasn't until he was a teenager that it began to dawn on him that he was the heir to this incredible fortune.
The 6th Duke of Westminster thought he would grow up farming beef in Northern Ireland. But then his uncle died, and his father inherited an monumentally valuable portfolio or lands and other assets. At the same time, Gerald the son all of a sudden became next in line to assume the title and property.
After his education, Grosvenor joined the military, where in 1973 he went to Sandhurst and commanded the North Irish Horse, The Cheshire Yeomanry Squadron, which was founded by his ancestors, and the "The Queen's Own Yeomanry". He was assigned the post of Assistant Chief of Defense Staff with a promotion to Major General in 2004. Gerald was the first reservist since 1930 to receive that rank.
The Duke of Westminster married Natalia Ayesha Phillips, the daughter of Lt Col. Harold Pedro Joseph Phillips and his wife Georgina Wernher, in 1978. His wife is a direct descendant of the Russian poet Alexander S. Pushkin and therefore of his African ancestor Ibrahim Hannibal as well as of King George II, making her very distantly in line to the British throne. The couple has four children – three daughters and a son, who is the Duke's heir apparent.
Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor has grown his family's wealth substantially as head of the Grosvenor Group. Their interests in British real estate have piggybacked on London's booming property market, making the Duke the U.K.'s wealthiest landowner. Grosvenor saw his fortune increase $400 million this past year alone thanks to the skyrocketing value of real estate in Belgravia, London's most expensive neighborhood. Gerald's family trust owns 190 acres in Belgravia, where homes can sell for $150 million a piece. His private Grosvenor Group separately owns real estate on five continents and reports just under $20 billion in assets under management. His family also has 96,000 acres in Scotland, 32,000 acres in Spain and thousands elsewhere in England. Grosvenor is also Chancellor of the University of Chester.
As we previously mentioned, Gerald Grosvenor, as the current Duke of Westminster, is a two star major general who commanded his nation's Army Reserve until 2012. However, his reputation took a bit of hit when he became embroiled in a salacious scandal involving prostitution. In 2006, he allegedly frequented the same high-end escort services as Governor Eliot Spitzer, even going so far as to try and talk an escort's price down.
Gerald has vehemently denied any involvement in the scandal, to the point where all UK papers have been forced to scrub past reporting on it from their online archives. Understandably, the Duke is a very private person who is said to have few friends. He has spent his career fiercely devoted to his country and military career. I guess it would be hard to have friends when you are the richest person in England with a bank account north of $14 billion. Technically speaking, he is worth $13.5 billion more than the Queen herself! Makes you wonder if he has any secret plans for a royal coup…