School pals’ trip to Paris that ended up in £9bn ro­mance

Daily Mail - - News - By Liz Hull and James Tozer

EN­JOY­ING a trip to the Eif­fel Tower and pos­ing with a red vin­tage car, this is clearly a tightknit group of friends.

Look closer, and you will spot the Duke of West­min­ster and his now-girl­friend within the pack.

For, as our pho­tos show, Hugh Grosvenor and Har­riet Tom­lin­son, both 26,have been firm friends since both at­tend­ing the ex­clu­sive Ellesmere Col­lege in Shrop­shire.

It is believed the duke, who in­her­ited £9.3bil­lion af­ter his fa­ther Ger­ald Grosvenor’s death in Au­gust, and Miss Tom­lin­son were not an item at the £30,000-a-year school.

But they stayed close while at dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties, in­clud­ing go­ing on holiday reg­u­larly with their friends – and their ro­mance has blos- somed more re­cently. Last night a source said: ‘Har­riet and Hugh have al­ways been friends, they were in a close group at school.’

The source said the friend­ship set still go abroad sev­eral times a year in­clud­ing to ski re­sorts and Ibiza, and that last year car en­thu­si­ast Hugh and some pals went to Africa ‘big game hunt­ing and driv­ing old Land Rovers’.

In the photo of the ‘gang’ in Paris, taken in 2012 dur­ing their univer­sity days, the duke looks unas­sum­ing in scruffy grey cords. In an­other im­age from one of his birthdays, Hugh is be­hind the wheel of a vin­tage car while his fu­ture girl­friend is laugh­ing and lift­ing a glass of wine.

The source said: ‘Har­riet was sporty at school. She was in the hockey team and did cross coun­try. She was very pop­u­lar, very pretty, but she was down to earth.’

Miss Tom­lin­son, the daugh­ter of a cur­tain fac­tory boss, stud­ied teach­ing at the Univer­sity of Wales, Cardiff, and now works in re­cruit­ment. The duke stud­ied coun­try­side man­age­ment at New­cas­tle.

As well as trips with their friends, the duke, who works for an en­ergy firm, is thought to have gone on sev­eral ro­man­tic breaks with Miss Tom­lin­son, in­clud­ing re­cently to Cal­i­for­nia where they are believed to have stayed in the lux­ury Ven­tana re­sort, where rooms cost up­wards of £500 a night.

A source told the Sun­day Mir­ror: ‘Hugh and Har­riet are bliss­fully happy. She’s very much the love of his life.’

Close-knit: Miss Tom­lin­son, cir­cled left, and Hugh Grosvenor, right, vis­it­ing the Eif­fel Tower with their friends in 2012

‘Love of his life’: Har­riet Tom­lin­son when she was at univer­sity

Birth­day boy: The duke be­hind the wheel of a vin­tage car while Miss Tom­lin­son laughs

Sporty: En­joy­ing the sun­shine

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