Queen Elizabeth II not only leaves many titles and offices to her children, but also an extensive fortune. The monarch was one of the richest Britons until her death. And she had some interesting revenue streams.
Being the monarch of Britain also pays off financially. Queen Elizabeth II will leave an estimated 500 million euros to her children and grandchildren after her death on September 8, 2022. If they deal with it wisely, the fortune will hardly decrease in the coming years. The British royal family earns around 95 million euros a year. Overall, the wealth of the entire monarchy is even estimated at around 28 billion euros. However, not everything really belongs to the monarchs.
One of Elizabeth’s predecessors, King George III, made a deal with the then British government in 1760. He moved all the lands and properties of the royal family in a real estate company, the “Crown Estate”. This technically belongs neither to the monarch nor to the state, but is accountable to the British Parliament and managed by independent administrators. In return, Parliament redeemed George III. from the obligation to pay for the national debt, the military and the costs of civil administration. Because he lost income from the loss of his lands and real estate, he received a portion of the Crown Estate’s income as personal income.
This regulation is still valid today. For example, the Crown Estate manages the entire Regent Street shopping street in London, Windsor Castle and numerous properties of a trivial nature such as shopping centers throughout the country. There are also around 116,000 hectares of land. That’s an area the size of Hamburg and Bremen together. The more curious possessions include all the wild crustaceans in Scotland and every piece of land in the country that has no other owner.
The Crown Estate is now worth around 17 billion euros and most recently generated 382 million euros in 2021. The Queen received 25 percent of this as a so-called “Sovereign Grant”, i.e. 95.5 million euros. The percentage will be reduced again to 15 percent from 2027. It has been increased by Parliament for 10 years so that the Queen can pay for the renovation of Buckingham Palace.
The “royal company” is the designation for the royal family itself. With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, this company now consists of seven people: King Charles III. and his wife Camilla, Prince William and his wife Kate, Elizabeth’s daughter Princess Anne, and Elizabeth’s youngest son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie.
Together these seven manage a mega company. The real estate alone has an estimated value of 8 billion euros. These include Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, the Duchy of Cornwall (of which Camilla is the Duchess) and the Duchy of Lancaster. Charles is now officially the Duke of Lancaster. However, this designation has not been given as an individual title since 1413.
The “Royal Firm” manages all the income that the royal family has from official appearances, for example. It also licenses the logo or faces of family members for official inscriptions, crests and the like. The family business is not legally defined as such, but rather a loose collection, which Elizabeth II decided to belong to as monarch – which is why Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, for example, are no longer part of it after moving to the USA.
The pure income of the “Royal Firm” is estimated at 500 million euros a year. Financially, however, their importance for Great Britain is far greater. The largest source of income is tourism, which is increasing due to the royal family. But even a royal coat of arms on a product like Johnnie Walker Whiskey can increase sales by ten percent, according to analysts.
The Duchy of Lancaster is known as the “Privy Purse” in English. It belongs to the Royal Firm and has an estimated value of 750 million euros. It consists of around 200 square kilometers of land – the size of Stuttgart – and 306 kilometers of coastline. The annual income of the last 24 million euros per year goes directly to the monarch. However, they have to be taxed and are mostly used for expenses that the royal family cannot pay with the income from the Sovereign Grant.
The name “Privy Purse” dates back to medieval times, when the monarch had to finance all government expenditures. All income that served this purpose was referred to as a “public purse”. The income from Lancaster, on the other hand, was the only one that belonged directly to the monarch and was not used for the state.
So far we’ve mostly talked about land, real estate, and crustaceans. But the British monarch Elizabeth II also leaves a very private fortune. “Her Majesty’s Personal Assets” include, for example, her art collection, jewels including the royal crown, private investments in racehorses and the two castles of Balmoral (where Elizabeth II died) and Sandringham House. Elizabeth II also inherited a fortune worth 70 million euros in 2002 when her mother died. This includes a collection of paintings with images by Monet and Fabergé, valuable stamps, the finest porcelain and a collection of Fabergé eggs.
Oh, and then the Queen owned all the unmarked swans on the Thames. They are counted once a year in a five-day event. Today it is more of a tourist attraction, but in the past the animals were of enormous value. Because a swan can weigh up to 20 kilograms, its meat was in great demand. At the time of Edward III. around 1350 a swan cost ten times as much as a goose. Back then, they ended up in rows on the royal dining tables. Today they are only counted.
The value of Elizabeth II’s personal belongings is estimated at more than 500 million euros. That alone would make her one of the 400 richest Britons, albeit far from the top spots.
The Crown Estate remains under the independent management and oversight of the British Parliament even after Elizabeth’s death. The properties of the Royal Firm do not belong to Charles personally, but he will preside over them from now on.
How much of his mother’s personal property he will inherit is not known. The Queen has a will that states who inherits what. However, it can be assumed that the majority of the properties, valued at 500 million euros, will pass to Charles.
The good thing: Neither he nor other heirs have to pay taxes for it. As early as 1993, the Queen negotiated an agreement with then Prime Minister John Major after the royal estate was exempt from the 40 percent inheritance tax. This is to prevent the monarch from becoming poorer and poorer from generation to generation.
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