STRASBOURG, France — The European Human Rights Court issued a ruling Friday against the Duke of Westminster that has dealt a blow to his hopes of retaining the London properties that have formed the backbone of his 900-year dynasty.
The duke's London estates include the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square, the Connaught Hotel, all of Belgrave Square and other property in fashionable districts.
The duke, 34-year-old Gerald Grosvenor, is Britain's biggest private land owner and the court decided that his human rights had not been violated by a 1967 law forcing him to sell off more than 200 residential properties. The law was designed to encourage home ownership among the less affluent.
In his petition, the duke claimed that tenants were using the act to snap up homes at well below the market price.
The duke had claimed that the 1967 act was forcing him to accept compulsory sales and was therefore in breach of the European Human Rights Convention, which says that no citizen should be deprived of property except in the public interest.
But court officials said the court had decided the sale of property was in the public interest and therefore not a breach of the duke's human rights.