The woman who won the heart of the most eligible bachelor in England

The Duke of Westminster and Olivia Henson's engagement photograph
The Duke of Westminster and Olivia Henson's engagement photograph - Grosvenor2023

She’s about to marry one of the richest men in the country in a lavish aristocratic wedding, yet the future Duchess of Westminster remains remarkably low-key.

Last week, Olivia Henson, 31, made her first public appearance when she visited three charities in Chester that her fiancé Hugh Grosvenor’s Westminster Foundation is supporting. As she chatted to charity workers with her long brown hair, slim, willowy frame, perfect teeth and stylish Sandro floral-print trousers and &OtherStories jacket, Henson drew comparisons with a young Catherine, Princess of Wales. And her wedding next month at Chester Cathedral has been almost as talked about as that royal wedding.

The Duke of Westminster and Olivia Henson visited three charities in Chester that the Westminster Foundation supports, including Studio by Storyhouse
The Duke of Westminster and Olivia Henson visited three charities in Chester that the Westminster Foundation supports, including Studio by Storyhouse
Prince of Wales and Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales play with Modelling Dough with children in the Nursery at The Rainbow Centre
Henson's first public engagement, above, drew comparisons with Catherine, Princess of Wales (pictured with the Prince of Wales at The Rainbow Centre in 2022) - CHRIS JACKSON/AFP

As the Duke is close friends with both the Prince and Princess of Wales and Prince Harry – he is godfather to Prince George and Archie, and the godson of King Charles – it was rumoured that Hugh and Olivia’s nuptials on June 7 could be the event to bring the warring brothers back together. But depending on who you believe, either the Duke of Sussex turned down his “save the date” to avoid an “awkward” encounter with the other members of the royal family, or the Sussexes were NFI to avoid overshadowing Hugh’s big day.

So what do we know about the woman who has won the heart of the man known as “the most eligible bachelor in England”? Just like the Princess of Wales, Henson studied at Marlborough College (she was contemporaries with Princess Eugenie) but unlike the Princess of Wales she’s no “commoner”. She is of aristocratic stock, descended from the Hoare banking family, the Marquesses of Bristol and the Dukes of Rutland. Her uncle, Charles Wolrige Gordon, is the Grand Master of Scottish freemasons, Scotland’s senior freemason. Her father, Rupert Henson, is a stockbroker and she has two siblings – 29-year-old Jasper, who works in asset management for a property company, and 26-year-old Emilia, who is a brand relationships manager at the beauty box company Latest In Beauty.

Henson speaks Spanish and Italian, having studied Hispanic Studies and Italian at Trinity College, Dublin (she got a 2:1) and before Marlborough she attended the prestigious Dragon School, Oxford, which she attended alongside Emma Watson.

After stints working for drinks companies such as Daily Dose Juices and No.1 Rosemary Water, she is now a senior account manager at Belazu, an environmentally friendly B-corp which imports chef-quality, sustainably-sourced ingredients from across Europe. Pictures on the company’s website show her on a trip to Morocco in printed harem pants and dancing to Take That’s ‘Never Forget’ in sunglasses. She met Grosvenor, who is worth £10 billion and known as “Hughie”, in October 2021 through mutual friends.

When Henson and Grosvenor released their official engagement photo in April last year, taken in the grounds of his family home of Eaton Hall in Cheshire, eyebrows were raised at how casual it was. One commentator remarked that Henson hadn’t brushed her hair and appeared to be wearing pyjamas. But, says royal expert Victoria Murphy, that sums up the couple’s low-maintenance, relaxed approach.

“Despite the billions in the bank, they seem like a normal, modern, young couple,” says Murphy, who met them last week as they toured Chester charities. “They both seem very invested and committed to their foundation and making a difference in the community. She was very composed and confident, especially considering it was her first public appearance. She remembered people’s names and was very chatty and natural. I got the impression she’s very passionate about food – she made a comment about restaurants being in her wheelhouse and how good the restaurants are in Chester.”

Hugh Grosvenor and Olivia Henson
'They seem like a normal, modern, young couple': the pair were in good spirits as they made a rare public appearance together in Chester

The couple plan to live in the cathedral city for most of the time, with Henson saying: “It’s obviously a place where we will live, where we’ll be building our lives together. And we’re slowly transitioning to move up from London and be much more permanent here and really putting roots down. So actually, yes it was a really easy decision in the end.”

Their wedding next month will be held at Chester Cathedral, with the reception at Eaton Hall. No other details have been revealed, but it’s thought it will be a low-key, casual and sustainable affair. “Although they’re obviously high-profile they seem very guarded and private and humble,” adds Murphy, who said Olivia’s engagement ring was a “silver pillowy style” but nothing flashy. Henson notably didn’t show it in the engagement photo.

Last time the Duke of Westminster had a big party at Eaton Hall was a neon-themed bash for his 21st back in 2012, where 800 guests (including the Duke of Sussex) partied with entertainers including Michael McIntyre and Rizzle Kicks. It cost a reported £5 million. When Hugh’s sister Lady Tamara Grosvenor wed Edward van Cutsem at Chester Cathedral in November 2004, thousands of onlookers lined the streets, and the city is expecting a similar turnout next month.

Eaton Hall in Cheshire
The wedding reception will take place at Eaton Hall, the Grosvenor family's ancestral seat, situated just a few miles outside of Chester - David Goddard/Getty

Although after all the speculation about which royals will attend, it looks as though it may just be William. “I don’t know if Charles and Camilla will be there,” says Ingrid Seward, royal commentator. “Friday is not the day they enjoy having engagements – especially as far away as Chester which would mean an un-environmentally friendly helicopter. But they might have to go as Charles is a godfather to Hugh. Otherwise, I think William will have to carry the royal can.”

The Prince of Wales is hotly-tipped to be Hugh’s Best Man, but it’s unlikely the Princess of Wales will attend due to health issues. Other notable names in attendance will be Hugh’s older sister Lady Edwina Grosvenor, who is married to TV presenter Dan Snow, and the British Skeet Shooting team – the 7th Duke of Westminster is an avid skeet shooter and represented Britain in the Olympics.

Hugh Grosvenor, Earl Grosvenor (L) and Prince William attend the wedding of Edward van Cutsem and Lady Tamara Grosvenor at Chester Cathedral on November 6, 2004
The Prince of Wales is hotly tipped to be Hugh's Best Man (the pair pictured in 2004 at the wedding of Edward van Cutsem and Lady Tamara Grosvenor) - Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

It’s not yet known where the couple will honeymoon, although the Duke has a 37,000-acre hunting estate near Seville, Spain where guests can lawfully shoot boar and partridge. Prince William once sparked controversy when it was discovered he had been there just before launching an appeal to stop illegal wildlife hunting.

With just weeks to go until the big day, Hugh has said he is “incredibly excited” about the wedding which will be “nerve-wracking”. It’s the start of a new life for them in Chester and a new life for Olivia Henson as a Duchess. Let’s hope she manages to brush her hair.