Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster

Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster

Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster GCVO DSO (familiarly "Bendor") (March 19 1879 – July 19 1953) was the son of Victor Alexander Grosvenor, Earl Grosvenor and Lady Sibell Mary Lumley, the daughter of the 9th Earl of Scarborough [ The] ] . He was a grandson of Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster.

After succeeding his grandfather as Duke of Westminster in 1899, he served in the Second Boer War with the Imperial Yeomanry until 1901, as an ADC to Lord Roberts and Lord Milner. He subsequently invested in land in South Africa and Rhodesia.

In 1908, the Duke competed in the London Olympics as a motorboat racer for Great Britain.

On 1 April 1908, he was named honorary lieutenant-colonel of the 16th Battalion, The London Regiment, a post he held until 1915. The Duke served with the Cheshire Yeomanry during World War I, developing a prototype Rolls-Royce Armoured Car for their use. During their 1916 campaign in Egypt, as part of the Western Frontier Force under General William Peyton, the Duke (then a major) commanded the armoured cars of the regiment and took part in the destruction of a Senussi force at Agagia on 26 February 1916. On 14 March 1916, he led the armoured cars on a raid that destroyed the enemy camp at Bir Asiso. Learning that the crews of HMT "Moorina" and HMS "Tara" were being held at Bir Hakkim, he led the armoured cars on a 120-mile dash to rescue them before returning. He received the DSO for this exploit. He was subsequently promoted colonel and on 26 May 1917, he was named honorary colonel of the regiment.

In 1925, he was introduced to Gabrielle ("Coco") Chanel after a party in Monte Carlo and pursued her. He was as extravagant with her as he was with all of his lovers. One famous story is that he hid a huge uncut emerald at the bottom of a crate of vegetables for her, another is that he showed up at Chanel's apartment with an enormous bouquet of flowers and was only recognized after Chanel's assistant tried to hand "the delivery boy" a tip. He was Chanel's lover until 1930.

In 1931, the Duke, a Conservative "outed" his brother-in-law, William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp (1872-1938), as a homosexual to the King and Queen; he reportedly hoped to ruin the Liberal Party through Beauchamp. Homosexuality was a criminal offence at the time, and the King was horrified, saying "I thought men like that shot themselves." During the run-up to World War II, he supported various right-wing and anti-semitic causes, including the Right Club.

Marriages and issue

and they were divorced in 1919. They had three children:

* Lady Ursula Mary Olivia Grosvenor (21 February 1902 -1978), married, firstly, William Patrick Filmer-Sankey in 1924 and was divorced in 1940. She married, secondly, Major Stephen Vernon in 1940. By her first husband she had two sons, Patrick and Christopher Filmer-Sankey, the younger dying in her lifetime. Her child by her second husband died young. Lady Ursula's descendants by her first husband are the sole descendants of the 2nd Duke. They reside in the UK, Australia and Sweden.
* Edward George Hugh Grosvenor, Earl Grosvenor (1904 – 1909), who died aged 5, after an operation for appendicitis.
* Lady Mary Constance Grosvenor (27 June 1910 - 2000). Lady Mary was a keen sportswoman and racing driver, competing on rallies such as the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) and Royal Scottish Automobile Club (RSAC) in the 1930s. She used two Riley Sprites for pre-war hillclimbs, then switched in 1947 to a Bugatti T35; an Alta and Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica. She retired in 1951 after her father's death, in order to manage her estates in South Africa, Kenya and Scotland [ Women Drivers at Atlas F1] ] . She remained unmarried and lived mainly in Scotland.

The Duke married, secondly, Violet Mary Rowley, nee Nelson (1891-1983), daughter of Sir William Nelson, 1st Baronet and former wife of George Rowley, on 26 November 1920 and they were divorced in 1926. Violet, Duchess of Westminster remarried thirdly 3 October 1927 [Darryl Lundy. [ "Violet Mary Nelson"] "The" database. Retrieved 5 May 2008] Hon. Frederick Heyworth Cripps (later 3rd Baron Parmoor), by whom she had issue, the present 4th Baron Parmoor (b. 1929). [Violet, Duchess of Westminster had issue, two sons. Her elder son by her first marriage, Michael Rowley (d. 1952), married Lady Sibell Lygon, a niece of his mother's second husband, on 11 February 1939.]

Westminster married, thirdly, Hon. Loelia Mary Ponsonby (1902-1993), daughter of Frederick Ponsonby, 1st Baron Sysonby, on 20 February 1930. They were divorced in 1947 after several years of separation. Some years after his death, she remarried (as his 2nd wife) on 1 August 1969 the divorced Sir Martin Lindsay of Dowhill, 1st Bt. [Darryl Lundy. [ "Hon. Loelia Mary Ponsonby] "The" database. Retrieved 5 May 2008]

He married, fourthly, Anne (Nancy) Winifred Sullivan (1915-2003), on 7 February 1947. Anne, Duchess of Westminster outlived her husband by fifty years. She was the owner of Arkle, the champion racehorse, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times in the 1960s.

The Duke died in 1953, aged 74, leaving surviving issue two daughters. His titles and the entailed Westminster estate passed to his cousin, William Grosvenor, and thence to the two sons of his youngest half-uncle Lord Hugh Grosvenor (killed in action 1914). The title is now held by the 6th Duke, who was born in the 2nd Duke's lifetime.


*Burke's Peerage & Baronetage (Various editions)
*Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage (Various editions)
*Leslie Field: "Bendor - The Golden Duke of Westminster" (1983)

External links

* [ 2nd Duke of Westminster]
* [ The 2nd Duke] 's far-right political reviews.
* [ of the 2nd Duke in the First World War] , from the website. Retrieved 4 May 2008.

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