Billionaire Hugh Grosvenor, the 7th Duke of Westminster, weds Olivia Henson

The millennial Grosvenor has a net worth of £9 billion while Henson is an accountant and comes from an aristocratic family.  

Royal watchers were treated to a lovely (and rather lowkey by royal standards) wedding last Friday, June 7, between one of Britain’s most eligible bachelors, Hugh Grosvenor, the 7th Duke of Westminster, and his girlfriend of two years, Olivia Henson.

The pair, who wed in what was dubbed the UK’s “Wedding of the Year,” met through friends two years ago and became engaged at his home Eaton Hall in Cheshire early last year.

The dashing groom and the radiant bride. Photo from Emma Victoria Payne Bridal on Instagram

With the groom a certified millennial billionaire, coming from old money with strong ties to the British Royal Family, it’s interesting to see how the wedding, considered by many Britons to be the society wedding of the year, played out. 

The newlyweds—the Duke and Duchess of Westminster

The 33-year-old groom, Hugh Grosvenor, comes from old money. Through his mother, Grosvenor is from the Russian Imperial House of Romanov, specifically from Nicholas I of Russia, and also from the Russian writer Alexander Pushkin and his wife Natalia Nikolayevna Goncharova.

He became the 7th Duke of Westminster upon his father’s death in 2016 and inherited the family estate, which was then worth £9 billion. Grosvenor is currently one of the wealthiest men in Britain. In 2023, Bloomberg estimated that he had a net worth of approximately £9.42 billion.

Grosvenor is currently one of the wealthiest men in Britain. In 2023, Bloomberg estimated that he had a net worth of approximately £9.42 billion. Photo from The Standard/Getty Images

Upon assuming the dukedom, he has been busy heading the family’s property empire Grosvenor Group, as well as their charitable organization the Westminster Foundation that focuses on helping young people. 

Considered one of Britain’s most eligible bachelors prior to the wedding, King Charles III is one of his godfathers, and he is reportedly close friends with both Prince William and Prince Harry. 

Meanwhile, the bride, Olivia Henson, works as a senior account manager at Belazu, an ethical food production company in London that collaborates with farmers. The 31-year-old grew up in London and Oxfordshire and attended Marlborough College, the same school Kate Middleton attended. After studying Hispanic Studies and Italian at Trinity College, Dublin, she started building a career in the sustainable food sector.

Henson herself comes from an aristocratic lineage. Photo from Glamour

Henson herself comes from an aristocratic line. She is the eldest daughter of Rupert and Caroline Henson, who is descended from Britain’s Hoare banking family and the Marquess of Bristol. She also traces her lineage to John Manners, the 5th Duke of Rutland, making her a distant cousin of the Manners sisters Lady Violet, Lady Alice, and Lady Eliza.

The newlyweds met through friends two years ago and became engaged at his home Eaton Hall in Cheshire early last year.

The bridal look

The bespoke ivory silk crepe satin bridal gown and veil were described by most as “breathtaking,” and were designed by Emma Victoria Payne, a favorite among British society. Payne studied at Central St. Martins and worked for John Galliano.

The waterfall veil—undoubtedly the highlight of the ensemble—incorprated personalized embroidery, with designs from her great great grandmother’s veil all the way back from the 1880s.

According to the designer’s Instagram post, “Each original antique motif from Olivia’s family veil was hand drawn and reimagined into a new repeat pattern of graduating scalloped edges and oval shapes to reflect Olivia’s engagement ring setting. Personalized initials and wedding date complete the design in the center back.”

The bridal gown and veil’s designer Emma Victoria Payne helps the bride secure her veil and long train. Photo from the Daily Mail

In a separate Instagram post, the designer described the dress as boasting a slimline silhouette, three-quarter length sleeves, and a bateau neckline. Additional details, such as the lace trim on the neckline and cuffs, added a personal touch to the simple and elegant design. The back of the bridal gown features a dropped waist, keyhole back and scalloped edging embroidery embellishments fastening with rouleau loops. Completing the gown is a detachable two-meter silk crepe satin train with a paneled construction. 

Another memorable item was the bride’s Fabergé Myrtle Leaf Tiara, especially made for Grosvenor brides to wear on their wedding day. It has been with the Grosvenor family since its creation in 1906 and is considered one of the most treasured pieces in the Westminster collection. It was the same Tiara worn by Hugh’s older sister, the Lady Tamara, on her wedding day in 2004.

Fabergé’s Myrtle Leaf Tiara has been part of the Westminster’s collection since 1906. Photo from Fabergé

Despite the largely positive feedback on the Duchess’ bridal gown and tiara, it was her choice of shoes on her big day that drew more attention, albeit more divided. The bride opted for a pair of dark blue, velvet high heels with an eye-catching bow by Barcelona-based line Silvia Lago. Called the “Valentina 8 riviera” style, they are “handcrafted by master cobblers in Spain.”

The brand notes on their site, “The Valentina pumps are a dream come true. Its gorgeous maxibow will give your dress the ultimate stylish touch.”

Those who weren’t too happy with the choice said the shoes “ruined the whole look” and that they are a “distraction.” But there were some who praised Henson’s bold sartorial choice. Laura Sutcliffe of Hello! Magazine defended her, saying many brides wear bold and unique wedding shoes under their gowns, most notably, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and The City. Carrie wore the iconic Manolo Blahnik ‘Hangisi’ – a striking blue satin buckle pump, woven from the finest silk, in a bold cobalt blue, and finished with a crystallized brooch. “Perhaps this was Olivia’s Carrie moment?” Sutclifee writes.

Many netizens also said that the Duchess may just be following an old English tradition of wearing something blue on one’s wedding day. The saying goes: “Something olde, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.” 

The Duchess of Westminster’s divisive blue bridal shoes. Photo from Town and Country

On to the floral arrangements, a spokesperson for the family described the flowers used in the wedding as “100% British,” adding that the couple had chosen “seasonal flowers sourced from local growers through the ‘Flowers from the Farm’ network, which champions artisan growers.” Designed by London-based floral studio Flower & Press, the floral arrangements include rambling roses, philadelphus, campanula, and orlaya grandiflora. 

After the wedding, the flowers were said to have been “repurposed,” made into bouquets and delivered to local charities, churches, and organizations, including those with whom the Grosvenor family maintains close ties. The birch trees that lined the cathedral will be relocated to the Eaton Estate.

A spokesman for the couple said the flowers used in the wedding have been “repurposed,” made into bouquets and delivered to local charities, churches, and organizations. Photo from Fabergé

If there’s one defining theme in the wedding, it’s heritage, says Eilidh Hargreaves, features editor of Tatler. She adds that Henson’s gown, veil, tiara, and bouquet are a nod to her own family, her new husband’s, and their wedding day.

“As they prepare to settle down at Eaton Hall and begin their lives together as Duke and Duchess, Olivia will not be pushed and pulled by trends or bling or fame. Her style and ethos is resolute: simple, confident and taking nothing for granted.”

The guest list and venues

A high profile event would of course have a star-studded guest list. Prince William, for instance, served as an usher at the wedding. Other high-profile attendees included Princess Eugenie and the Countess of Lichfield. 

Prince William of Wales and Princess Eugenie of York led the wedding’s royal guest list. Photo from WWD

The Duke and Duchess of Westminster exchanged “I do’s” at the ancient Chester Cathedral, which dates back to 1093 and has a deep connection to the Grosvenor family since the 12th century. Hugh’s sister Lady Tamara was married there in 2004, and a memorial service for Hugh’s father, the 6th Duke of Westminster, was held there in 2016. The Dean of Chester officiated the service, while the Bishop of Chester delivered the sermon.

The Duke and Duchess of Westminster exchanged “I do’s” at the ancient Chester Cathedral, which dates back to 1093. Photo from Getty Images

The reception was held in Eaton Estate, which is on the outskirts of Chester and home to the Grosvenor family since the 1400s. The 11,000-acre estate consists of Eaton Hall as well as gardens, farmland, and woodland.

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