Irish Dowager Duchess Dies in Car Crash Near Belfast
Viola Maud Grosvenor, the dowager duchess of Westminster and mother of Britain’s richest man, was killed in an automobile accident in Northern Ireland last week.
The 74-year-old duchess was on her way to a family residence in County Fermanagh in the southwest of the province May 3 when her Jaguar collided with another car.
Police said the two occupants of the other car also died in the accident near Dungannon, 40 miles west of Belfast.
The duchess’ husband, Robert George Grosvenor, the fifth Duke of Westminster, died in 1979. Her son, the sixth duke, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 35, inherited the huge family fortune based on real estate in London. His wealth is believed to exceed $3.32 billion.
One of the duchess’ daughters, Jane, is married to the Duke of Roxburgh, and the other, Leonora, was recently divorced from Lord Lichfield, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and professional photographer.
The family wealth came from a marriage dowry--a farm that rented 300 years ago for the modern-day equivalent of 50 cents a year. The Grosvenors over the years erected houses and increased their holdings to a point where today they stretch from the banks of the Thames, along to Victoria and up Whitehall, home of Britain’s Ministries.
Grosvenor Square by Oxford Street holds the U.S. Embassy and a statue of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.