Thursday, June 6, 2024

The Duke of Westminster's Romanov ancestry


@Victoria Tetley /Grosvenor 2024

Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor, the 7th Duke of Westminster, is one of the richest men in the world.  His net worth is in the range of £10.127 billion.  In Chester Cathedral on June 7, he will marry Olivia Grace Henson.

There will be massive press attention as the Duke, 33. is a peer of the realm, with close royal connections.   These connections are not due to his dukedom but due to his mother's family.

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 Hugh's mother is Natalia Ayesha Phillips (1959), the youngest child (1909-1980) of Harold Phillips and Georgina "Gina" Werhner (1919-2011).  She met Gerald, Earl Grosvenor in 1977 at a ball at Blenheim Palace.  Her maternal grandmother, Lady Zia Werhner, was delighted with the possibility of a second duchess in the family.  Natalia's older sister, Alexandra (Sacha) (1946-2018) married James, Hamilton, Marquess of Hamilton (1934) in 1966.  He succeeded to the Dukedom of Abercorn (Peerage of Ireland) in 1979.  Prince Andrew was one of the pages at their wedding.  His godmother was Gina Phillips.

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 According to Raleigh Trevelyan, author of Grand Dukes and Diamonds, Lady Zia, a close friend of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,  said to Natalia: "Don't let him go. Don't let him go, you must come down and bring him to lunch."

Tally and Earl Grosvenor were married in 1978 in St Mary's Church, Luton.  Lord Grosvenor's father, Robert, 5th Duke of Westminster died four months after his son's wedding.

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 Hugh was born in London on January 29, 1991.  He has two older sisters, Lady Tamara van Cutsem, Lady Edwina Snow, a goddaughter of Diana, Princess of Wales, and one younger sister, Lady Viola Roberts.  He is the last male in the family, which means the Westminster dukedom will become extinct if he and his wife do not have a son.

The 6th Duke of Westminster was 64 years old when he died in August 2016.  Hugh was 25  when he inherited the peerage and the family wealth.

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 The Duchess of Westminster is the Prince of Wales' godmother.   King Charles III is the Duke of Westminster's godfather.  The Duke of Westminster is Prince George of Wales' godfather.

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 Gina Phillips (later Lady Kennard),  a lifelong friend of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, was the elder daughter of Sir Harold Wernher, BT, and Lady Zia Wernher (1892-1977).  A racing enthusiast, Lady Zia, was born Countess Anastasia Torby, the elder daughter of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovitch of Russia (1861-1929) and Countess Sophie of Merenberg (1868-1927).   This was a morganatic marriage that did not have the approval of Alexander III.  

Grand Duke Michael, Countess Sophie and their three children: Zia, Nada and Alex

Grand Duke Michael's marriage was a love match, however.   Sophie was the daughter of Prince Nikolaus of Nassau and Natalia Alexandrovna Pushkina, daughter of the Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin.  This marriage was also morganatic.  A morganatic marriage means an unequal marriage where the wives and children do not share their husbands' and fathers' rank and title.   Natalia was created Countess of Merenberg by Georg Viktor, Prince of Waldeck Pyrmont, who was married to Prince Nikolaus' sister, Princess Helene.   In 1891, Grand Duke Adolf of Luxembourg, Nikolaus' older half-brother, created his daughter as Countess of Merenberg after her marriage to Grand Duke Michael.

Michael's morganatic marriage saved his life.  Alexander III stripped his military ranks, but Miche Miche, as he was known within the family, retained his great wealth in exile.   The Grand Duke and his family lived in Wiesbaden and Cannes before settling permanently in England in 1900.   

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 In 1910, the Grand Duke leased Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath.

After the Russian Revolution,  Grand Duke Michael lost his fortune. King George V and  Queen Mary and Sir Harold Wernher provided financial assistance. Three of his brothers were killed by the Bolsheviks.

Countess Zia married Harold Wernher in July 1917 in Russian Orthodox and Anglican ceremonies.  The latter service was held at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace.  King George V, Queen Mary, Queen Alexandra, the Princess Royal, Princess Victoria, Princess Maud, Princess Beatrice, Princess Marie Louise, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the Duke of Connaught with Princess Patricia of Connaught, the Marquess and Marchioness of Milford Haven, Earl and Countess of Medina, Lady Louise Mountbatten, and Grand Duchess George of Russia were among the royal guests.  Countess Medina was Zia's younger sister, Nada.

Harold's father, Sir Julius's fortune was made in South Africa's diamonds.  Following the death of his older brother,  Derrick, in 1948,  Harold succeeded to the baronetcy, which became extinct when he died.

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Grand Duke Michael was the third child of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich, the seventh child of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, and Princess Cecilie of Baden.  

Nicholas I - Michael - Michael - Zia - Georgina - Natalia  - Hugh 

The Duke of Westminster also has a Mountbatten connection as his great-aunt, Countess Nada Torby, married Prince George of Battenberg in 1916.  A year later, George's father, Prince Louis of Battenberg was created the 1st Marquess of Milford Haven.  George was styled as Earl of Medina until his father died in 1921 when he succeeded as the 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven.  

Hugh's maternal grandfather, Harold Pedro Joseph Phillips was the son of Col. Joseph Phillips and Mary Mercedes Bryce, the youngest daughter of John Pablo Bryce and María de las Mercedes González de Candamo e Iriarte.  Maria de las Mercedes' brother, Manuel González de Candamo e Iriarte was President of Peru (1903-1904).    

Harold Phillip's first cousin, Janet Bryce (1937) was the daughter of Mary Mercedes's older brother, Francis Bryce.   Janet was the second wife of David, 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven,  the only son of Lady Zia's younger sister, Nada, Marchioness of Milford Haven.

1 comment:

John W said...

Harold Phillips was also, famously, the lover of Edwina Mountbatten.