Duke of Westminster gave £40m in grants through charitable foundation

The Duke is measured for a jacket by Petra Roddis in 1995 when he opened the National Kidney Research Funds second-hand designer shop in Belgravia
The Duke is measured for a jacket by Petra Roddis in 1995 when he opened the National Kidney Research Funds second-hand designer shop in Belgravia

The sixth Duke of Westminster, who has died aged 64, was known for taking his responsibilities as one of Britain’s wealthiest men and biggest landowners seriously.

A close friend of the Royal Family, he was a philanthropist who supported both rural and inner-city areas with links to his estate.

The Westminster Foundation, the charitable body which manages the philanthropic activities of his family, was set up in the 1970s and since then has awarded over £40 million in 1,500 grants.

The Duke was president of the RNIB for 25 years and president of the St John Ambulance for 10 years.

He also paid thousands of pounds to some of his workers to help them meet the poll tax – which he described as “insufferable”.

In 2001 he made a £500,000 donation to farmers during the foot-and-mouth outbreak, and he fought a legal case against Westminster City Council in 1990, centred on a number of social housing flats built on the family’s land in Pimlico, London.

Assigning the lease of the flats to the council for 999 years in 1937, he stipulated they must be used as housing for the working classes.

The council wanted to sell the properties below the market value to those working in the borough, but the duke refused.

A judge backed his wishes to maintain the low-cost accommodation.