King Charles inherits a fortune. Most of it is in the royal “company”, as the Windsors call their family business for representation tasks. It’s worth around £28 billion. In an international comparison, however, other nobles are richer than Charles.

“We don’t know how to heat our homes and we’re paying £100million for your parade. What do you say?” shouted a bystander to the new king as he visited the Welsh city of Cardiff on Friday. Charles III did not answer, but immediately turned to other subjects, who kindly stretched out their hands to him. The Windsors don’t talk publicly about money. There are mainly estimates and indirect calculations about assets and income.

It is clear that Charles inherited a lot. His mother Elizabeth II is said to have left him a personal fortune of £350m, estimates Sky television. The US business magazine Forbes sees personal wealth at around 450 million. These include Sandringham and Balmoral Castles, a stud farm, a jewelry collection, jewels, art treasures.

The wealth the Crown has amassed over some 1,000 years is estimated at up to £28 billion, including Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and extensive property holdings in some of London’s prime locations. The assets also include shopping centers or the 12-mile zone around the British coast, which the crown can lease.

The sovereign cannot spend this money alone. Most of the assets are invested in a foundation, the “Crown Estate”, and are controlled by government agencies and a supervisory board. 75 percent of the profits from the “Crown Estate” go to the state. The king gets the remaining 25 percent as a “sovereign grant”, a kind of maintenance. That was around £80m last year. This money is used to pay the salaries of the 400 royal household servants, maintain the castles, pay for travel expenses, electricity, water and telecommunications.

The income of the “company”, the name given to the family by the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, bubbles up from various sources. In addition to the “Sovereign Grant”, the Windsors receive an “Appanage” for the King’s relatives. In the past, many royals have taken on public appearances, cut red ribbons, unveiled memorial stones, taken on sponsorships and visited hospitals, fire brigades or former colonies. They pledge to publicly celebrate their family life. They are rewarded accordingly for this. King Charles III has announced that it will reduce the number of active royals and maybe limit spending a bit.

The King is also entitled to an annual personal income of £22m, generated by a Duchy of Lancaster trust through the leasing of farmland and woodland. Mother Elizabeth had divided this money among relatives. Whether Charles will keep it that way remains to be seen. Prince William, heir to the throne, will receive personal earnings of £24 million in the future. These are in turn generated by a lucrative foundation of the Duchy of Cornwall.

Neither the king nor his son William have to pay taxes on their personal income. You can pay income tax, but you don’t have to. By the way, Charles does not have to pay the usual inheritance taxes in Great Britain. Inheritances from sovereign to sovereign are exempt. The Queen is said to have made a will. What is recorded there will only be known in 90 years. Until then, the monarch’s last wishes will remain secret. According to the business magazine Forbes, he has not wasted the millions that Charles has raked in so far, but has spent them on charitable causes and on the salaries of his 132 personal servants and employees.

Marketing specialists in Great Britain estimate that the “company” with its royal brand generates considerable income for the British economy. The tourism industry and the media benefit from the Windsors’ family life with birthday parties, weddings, drama, scandals, jubilees and even funerals. The UK also gets free advertising time in front of billions of viewers worldwide. British companies benefit from the title “Royal Purveyor to the Court”, the Royal Warrant.

On the other hand, one could calculate the state services that arise for security, traffic control and logistics during royal appearances. The countless hours of work that the army, palace guards, police and other services have to do during the ten-day mourning period, for example, can hardly be calculated and the Windsors will not be charged under any circumstances.

In the memory of her private secretary, Lord Robin Janvrin (1999 to 2007), Elizabeth II was a reserved manager of the family company. She did not make any radical changes and took advice. “Their approach was unyielding common sense,” Janvrin wrote in his memoirs. Only once, in 1986, had the Queen approved a major financial reform at the company to cut costs. Her saying has been handed down: “Why do I actually have so many liveried servants?”

A management consultancy implemented a 1,200-page report on financial reform. Prince Charles was called the “boss” by his financial advisors, who liked to make solitary, sometimes eccentric, decisions. That must change on the throne now. “I know that as a sovereign I can no longer do everything,” Charles is said to have said years ago.

In an international comparison, the king of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only performs mediocre, according to the Internet service Royal24. If you only take private wealth as a benchmark, then the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Henri, is the leader among European aristocrats with 3.3 billion euros. Then comes the prince of the miniature state of Liechtenstein, Hans-Adam, with 2.8 billion euros. Prince of Monaco, Albert II, takes third place with 800 million. Charles III lands only in fourth place. Incidentally, the “poorest” king can be found in Belgium. Phillipe is said to only own around 11 million euros. However, as is usual with royals, the exact numbers are kept secret.

Seen from a global perspective, however, Europeans are poor church mice. The King of Thailand, the Sultan of Brunei or the King of Saudi Arabia are all in the tens of billions.

Author: Bernd Riegert (London)

*The post “The Queen’s Legacy: The ‘Company’ Goes On” is published by Deutsche Welle. Contact the person responsible here.