The Duke of Westminster died of a heart attack, it has been confirmed.
The landowner, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, who was the third wealthiest person in Britain with an estimated fortune of £8.3bn, passed away in the Royal Preston Hospital on Tuesday after being taken ill suddenly on his Abbeystead estate. He was 64.
A spokeswoman for the Preston Coroner’s Office confirmed the cause of death was myocardial infarction. There will be no inquest because he died of natural causes.
The duke, a close friend of the Royal Family, was described on the Grosvenor website as “a passionate country man, committed soldier, an excellent shot, a true entrepreneur and, importantly, he went out of his way to be courteous and humorous with all people, regardless of status or wealth.
“Distinctly down-to-earth, the Duke of Westminster was rarely seen without a Diet Coke and a cigarette (later electric).
“Not much of a sleeper, one might expect emails from him at any hour of the night and an average week would see him up and down from home in Chester to London and all over the world to visit soldiers, businesses, charities and rural estates while representing and promoting numerous organisations.”
The duke owned 190 acres in Belgravia, adjacent to Buckingham Palace and one of London’s most expensive areas, as well as thousands of acres in Scotland and Spain as well as his Lancashire estate near Garstang.
After his death, a Grosvenor family 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.”
He became trustee of the estate in his early 20s and was forced to abandon his dream of a career in the armed forces, instead satisfying his love of all things military by serving in the Territorial Army.
He became the sixth Duke of Westminster at 27 when his father Robert died in 1979, and later credited himself with using his vast wealth responsibly.
He supported a number of charities and good causes, including making a £500,000 donation to farmers during the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak.
The duke married Natalia Phillips in 1978 and they had one son and three daughters.
Due to the rule of primogeniture, his dukedom is passed to his third-born child, with Hugh Grosvenor, at the age of 25, leapfrogging both his older sisters, Lady Tamara and Lady Edwina.
The duke is also survived by a third daughter, Lady Viola.