Millionaire former Conservative Cabinet minister dead at just 51

Curse of the Channons strikes again: Henry Channon – Guinness heir and son of Thatcher minister – dies aged just 51, 35 years after sister Olivia took fatal heroin overdose while studying at Oxford

  • Former Conservative Cabinet minister Henry Channon has today died at just 51
  • The millionaire Guinness dynasty member battled with illness for many months
  • His aristocratic family has suffered with a number of tragic deaths in past years

The millionaire son of a former Conservative Cabinet minister has died at home at the age of just 51, it was revealed yesterday.

Friends said Henry Channon, a member of the Guinness dynasty, had battled with an illness for several months before his death on Saturday.

His death is the latest tragedy to befall his family after his older sister Olivia Channon died from a drugs overdose at Oxford University in 1986.

Henry Channon with his wife Katie. The Channon family live in a Grade I-listed mansion in Essex

Their father Paul Channon, later Lord Kelvedon, served as a Cabinet minister in the Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher governments.

He died in 2007 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. His widow Lady Kelvedon died two years later.

Lord Kelvedon was the son of American-born diarist Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon and Lady Honor Guinness, and inherited her share of the Guinness family wealth.

The aristocratic clan has been dogged by a string of tragedies.

A friend of the Channon family told the Daily Mail: ‘Henry had not been well for some time, but his death has come as a tremendous shock to his family and friends.

‘He was a completely wonderful man. His family are devastated. He and his wife Katie have two small children.

‘Katie is immensely brave and resourceful, but she is distraught.’

Mr Channon’s oldest sister Olivia died from a drugs overdose at Oxford University in 1986 when he was only 16

Mr Channon was only 16 years old when his oldest sister Olivia died from a heroin overdose shortly before she was due to graduate from Oxford University.

His death means their sister Georgia, 55, is now the only surviving sibling of the three.

Mr Channon and wife Katie married in 2009 and have two young children. He also has two sons by his previous marriage.

The Channon family live in a Grade I-listed mansion in Essex, bought by Mr Channon’s grandfather.

A second family home, on Cheyne Walk, west London, was sold to Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich for £25million in 2011 after Lord Kelvedon’s death.

He had been close friends with the Duke of Kent at Eton and the house was the venue for their joint 70th birthday party, where guests included the Queen and Prince Charles.

The Channon family is also reported to have owned property on Mustique since 1975 and both Mr Channon and his father have been chairman of the Mustique Company, which runs the exclusive Caribbean island.

Mr Channon’s privileged upbringing was overshadowed by the shock death of his sister Olivia.

Lord Kelvedon with wife Ingrid and Henry, Georgia and Olivia. Lord Kelvedon was the son of American-born diarist Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon and Lady Honor Guinness, and inherited her share of the Guinness family wealth

The 22-year-old history student binged on alcohol and drugs at a party thrown by a friend in his room at Christ Church College and choked to death after she vomited while unconscious.

Her death stunned the country and lifted the lid on Class A drug use among the privileged elite.

She died in the rooms of Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was later given a small fine for possession of drugs.

He died in 2007 after overdosing on heroin.

Olivia’s cousin Sebastian Guinness, also at the party, was jailed for four months for possession and her best friend Rosie Johnston received a nine-month sentence for supplying drugs.

The Guinness family, with an estimated worth of around £906million, have been struck by a series of tragedies, prompting claims of a family ‘curse’.

Guinness heir Tara Browne died in 1966 when his car ran through red lights in Kensington, smashing into a van.

Lady Henrietta Guinness jumped off a bridge in Umbria, Italy, in 1978. Four-year-old Peter Guinness died in a car crash in the same year.

In 2004 Robert Hesketh died in his sleep after taking drugs at a country house party. He was found by his wife Catherine, daughter of Guinness heir Lord Moyne.

Last summer Guinness heiress Honor Uloth died in a freak swimming pool accident aged 19.

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