Money & Power

This Is How the Royal Family Earned Its Billions

Yep, that's billions with a 'b.'
IMAGE CHRIS JACKSON
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It should hardly come as a surprise that the British royal family is well-off; After all, for most of us the very concept of royalty is tied to wealth. But exactly how "comfortable" are the members of Queen Elizabeth's family tree?

Between physical holdings, including the family's multiple private estates, art collections, and, of course, Her Majesty's prized jewels, as well as the more ephemeral value the royal "brand" brings to Britain, as a group, the royal family is estimated to be worth $88 billion reports Forbes.

A portion of that wealth comes courtesy of a trust known as the Crown Estate, a collection of lands and other holdings that functions as the sovereign's personal estate and is technically neither the property of the British government nor that of the royal family privately. Including 263,000 farmed acres, a significant portion of the buildings in central London, and about half of the UK shoreline, including 12 miles of seabed extending out beyond those coasts (yes, really), the Crown Estate's holdings were recently calculated at around $18 billion. 

The structure of the estate traces back to King George III who traded off the management of his holdings in favor of an income—an income which Her Majesty and Prince Philip continue to receive every two years in arrears in the form the tax-exempt sovereign grant. The taxpayer-funded payment is designed to cover the expenses of carrying out the duties of the monarch (think: travel, entertaining, the cost of maintaining royal properties).

Traditionally the payment has been calculated based on 15 percent of the Crown Estate's profits, but in 2016, it was announced that the percentage would increase to 25 percent over the course of ten years, making the Queen's share nearly $100 million for 2017-2018.

Many other national treasure of the crown are held in a separate trust known as the Royal Collection, including the crown jewels, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, and Frogmore House, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle held their wedding reception, but that doesn't mean that the family is without private holdings.

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Personally valued at $530 million, Queen Elizabeth counts among her private assets the 20,000 acre Sandringham Estate, valued at $65 million, and Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands (widely thought to be the Queen's favorite residence), which carries a $140 million price tag. She also collects an income from the Duchy of Lancaster, a 45,000 acre private estate that has been passed down in the royal family since 1399. It reportedly brought in around $24 million last year. The money goes to fund the private needs of the Queen and her family as well charitable contributions.

The Queen is not the only one in the family with a duchy to her name, though. Prince Charles's $400 million net worth is heavily funded by the Duchy of Cornwall, a tract of land spanning over 23 counties, which earned him $28.6 million between March 2017 and March 2018 according to a report released earlier this year. The report also clarified that while the Duke of Cornwall receives an income from the Duchy's revenue surplus, he does not have access the Duchy's capital value.

Like his mother, Prince Charles's assets largely fund his private life with his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and contribute to the expenses of his children and grandchildren. Charles's sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, are each said to receive an unspecified "allowance" from the Duchy's funds.


As for the Princes, William and Harry each reportedly have net worths of around $40 million (no sibling rivalry here) predominately accumulated from funds left in trust by their mother, Princess Diana, inheritances from the Queen Mother, and their salaries from the military. Combined with their wives (Kate Middleton's estimated net worth is around $10 million while Meghan Markle clocks in at a cool $5 million) the brothers are in very comfortable financial positions.

Though less is known about the financial statuses of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, the sisters are estimated to have very similar net worths—each approximately $4.8 million.

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Of course, one the families most significant economic values is difficult to pin down. In addition to their charitable giving and the funds to maintain some of the UK's most iconic landmarks, the royals themselves present an enormous added value for tourism, trade, and even fashion—a contribution that is valued at $55 billion. The massive outpouring of attention around this year's royal weddings—first Harry and Meghan, and soon Princess EugenieThe Guardian estimates that the UK could see a boost of over $100 million this year due to the nuptials alone.

*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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Lauren Hubbard
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