What happens to the Duke of Westminster’s titles if he doesn’t have a male heir?

Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, is 33 years old. His bride Olivia Henson, now the new Duchess of Westminster, is 31 years old. This has become more of a regular thing in the British aristocracy – titled toffs waiting until their 30s to marry, and marrying generational peers to boot. It feels like a very small accomplishment, that the Duke of Malarkey or the Lord Bumfuddle no longer seek virginal teenagers as their brides. Now, the same old expectations are there: Olivia, the new duchess, basically has to provide an heir as soon as possible. That’s the way all of this works. That’s primogeniture. “Duke of Westminster” is a hereditary title going to the firstborn son. With the title comes all of the loot, the $9 billion real estate fortune, the 11,000-acre Eaton Hall, the whole shebang. But as it turns out, if Olivia and Hugh have zero sons, a secondary/subsidiary title will be passed along to a distant relative. A distant relative of whom, you might ask. Well, funny story. The distant relative is related to both Hugh AND Olivia. Ah, the British aristocracy.

A 90-year-old academic living in Australia could become the saviour of the Duke of Westminster’s family title, first bestowed on his ancestors at William IV’s coronation in 1831.

If newlyweds Hugh Grosvenor and Olivia Henson do not have a son, the historic Duke of Westminster title will die with him. However, his subsidiary title, the Marquess of Westminster, will live on through the Earl of Wilton, his fourth cousin once removed.

The 8th Earl and heir presumptive also happens to be distantly related, through marriage, to Ms Henson, as her step-first cousin twice removed.

The Eton-educated academic, more commonly known as Francis Ebury, lives in Melbourne, where he settled after pursuing a career in the financial industry that took him from London to Hong Kong. He took a doctorate in Philosophy-Arts at Melbourne University, where he also taught, and served as a director of the city’s Victorian Opera until 2017.

[From The Telegraph]

Okay then. Update your copies of Debrett’s Peerage. What I don’t understand is how in the world the subsidiary title would pass to this super-distant relation of both Olivia and Hugh, all while Hugh has plenty of nieces and (more importantly) nephews. Hugh has three sisters, all of them married, and he has at least three nephews (I’m not doing a deep dive on this, don’t hate me). Why would a subsidiary title not pass to one of Hugh’s nephews in a situation where Hugh had no male heirs? Sigh… this page of Debrett’s is going to have a lot of annotations.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images.











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