Today, we are informed by the BBC that the billionaire landowner, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, has died aged 64. In fairness to the BBC, this sudden loss to us all (apparently) was not featured as a major headline on its Home page, but as a ‘sub’ further down, below the threat of a Eurostar rail strike, a report on half of women being sexually harassed at work (it doesn’t define which ‘half’), and the rejection by Peppa Pig of an offer from the media company, ITV.
The report on the late Duke is highly detailed, including video, images of him with the Queen and Prince Charles, and much enthusing on his life and work. It also noted that his bank roll was good to the tune of $10.8 billion, though he lost nearly a billion due to the fall in the value of the U.K. pound following the Brexit result. Perhaps it was the thought of that which brought on his rapid and fatal illness?
It’s never been clear to the writer why it’s necessary to publicise these people so widely just because they’re stinking rich, and dead. This guy owned half of London, (the better half, that is) and much of the fertile county of Cheshire, had estates in Oxford and Scotland, owned most of Liverpool City Centre, as well as land in Europe. He led a privileged existence and wouldn’t have known a darned thing about working class people, though he may have thought he did.
He joined the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst to train as an army officer, which is really amazing as he left Harrow with only two ‘O’ level GCE passes. The military demands the equivalent of at least four ‘O’ level pass grades – to include English language, mathematics and either a science subject or a foreign language – plus the equivalent of at least two ‘A’ level passes, to enroll at Sandhurst. One can only assume friendship with Prince Charles and the Queen of England made all that academic nonsense irrelevant.
As a ‘military man’ he was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath, Efficiency Decoration, Volunteer Reserves Service Medal, Canadian Forces Decoration, the Order of the Garter, the Order of St John, the QEII Silver Jubilee medal, the QEII Golden Jubilee medal, the QEII Diamond Jubilee medal, the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Lazarus, and the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I. He ended up as a Major-General. And all without once going to war.
Privilege is the preserve of too many and the right of none. The BBC makes much of the man’s life, but in truth he was no different from Geoffrey Jones, a council worker from Bridgend in South Wales, except that he had tons more money than Geoff. The Welsh binman enjoyed the occasional bet on the horses and had been known to frequent the seamier areas of Bridgend, after dark, in search of certain ladies of the night.
Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, was no stranger to such ladies, either. Following investigation into the ‘Eliot Spitzer affair’ it was revealed that said Duke had also made use of the services supplied by the Emperors Club VIP, an illegal, high-class, prostitution ring made notorious by Spitzer, then governor of New York, when it was discovered he spent in excess of $80,000 on prostitutes from the club over a two year period.
There was one difference between the Welsh binman and the Duke: Geoffrey Jones had been a widower ten years, the Duke – like Spitzer – was a married man.
Interestingly, the coat-of-arms of the 6th Duke of Westminster (see above) bears the motto: ‘Vertus Non Stemma’. It can roughly be translated as; ‘Virtue, Not Birth’.
Now that Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, is dead his son, Hugh, inherits the title and all the billions of dollars that go with it. To achieve this fine state of being all he had to do was that which we all have to achieve just once – suffer the necessary contortions to escape our mother’s womb. Only in his case, mummy’s interior could be likened to a one-armed bandit primed to pour forth the jackpot.
Funeral arrangements for the 6th Duke of Westminster have yet to be finalised. No doubt they’ll be lavish. Most of the British ‘gentry’ and their hangers-on will be in attendance.
Geoffrey Jones also died yesterday. His funeral will be paid for out of council finances, as he couldn’t afford insurance and the government’s funeral allowance is paltry. There’ll not be many to say goodbye to Geoff, just a few old mates from the council and a frail old lady, a neighbour, who kept an eye on him after his wife died.
When Geoffrey Jones first came into this world he worked just as hard to get here as the 6th Duke of Westminster, yet he started with nothing. Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor had everything from the moment he uttered his first breath.
Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right.
 “Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, dies aged 64” BBC, August 10th 2016
 “Richest man in England also a regular of prostitution ring in Spitzer scandal” New York Daily News, March 12th 2008