The Dukes of the Peerage of the United Kingdom

The Dukes

The Duke of Westminster

Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster (18791953)

Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, GCVO DSO (familiarly "Bendor") (19 March 1879 – 19 July 1953) was the son of Victor Alexander Grosvenor, Earl Grosvenor and 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 until 1901, as an ADC to Lord Roberts and Lord Milner. He subsequently invested in land in South Africa and Rhodesia.

Duke of Westminster Marriage 

He married, firstly, Constance Edwina Cornwallis-West (1876-1971), the sister of Daisy Princess von Pless, on 16 February 1901 and they were divorced in 1919.

They had three children:

Lady Ursula Mary Olivia Grosvenor (b. 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.

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), died young.  

Lady Mary Constance Grosvenor (b. 27 June 1910-2000). Lady Mary was a keen sportswoman and racing driver. She remained unmarried and lived mainly in Scotland.

2nd Duke of Westminster - Olympic Entrant 

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

Duke of Westminster and the Army 

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 campaign in Egypt, 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.

He married, secondly, Violet Mary Nelson (1891-1983), daughter of Sir William Nelson, 1st Baronet, on 26 November 1920 and they were divorced in 1926.

2nd Duke of Westminster's Legendary affair with Chanel

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.

He married, thirdly, Hon. Loelia Mary Ponsonby (1902-1993), daughter of Frederick Ponsonby, 1st Baron Sysonby, on 20 February 1930 and they were divorced in 1947.

In 1931, the Duke, a Conservative "outed" his brother-in-law, William Lygon, the 7th Earl Beauchamp (1872-1938), as a homosexual to the King and Queen and 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. 

He married, fourthly, Anne (Nancy) Winifred Sullivan (1915-2003), on 7 February 1947.

The Duke died in 1953, aged 74 and his titles passed to his cousin, William Grosvenor.

Further Reading:

NYT article on his marriage, 1901:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9804E4D61039E733A25754C1A9649C946097D6CF

NYT article on death of his son and heir, 1909:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9800E4DC153EE733A25757C1A9649C946897D6CF&oref=slogin

Descendants of William the Conqueror:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~conqueror/genealogy_html/i441.html

http://www.william1.co.uk/w26.html

The Peerage:

http://www.thepeerage.com/p589.htm

Knights of the Garter:

http://www.heraldica.org/topics/orders/garterlist.htm