On April 29, 2011, millions of people across the world will watch Prince William wed his long term girlfriend and college sweetheart, Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London.
William and Catherine (as she will be known officially) have urged that the ceremony reflects these recessionary times and avoids being overly "lavish," but with a guest list boasting royalty, oligarchs and celebrities, their nuptials will be celebrated by some of the wealthiest people in the world — for whom being "lavish" is a way of life.
Although the official guest list has not been made public and will remain a secret until the big day, the guests listed here are the richest that are expected to be in attendance, according to a number of British publications and websites.
So, who is expected to be the richest in attendance at the royal wedding? Click ahead to find out.
By Antonya Allen
Posted 20 April 2011
Status: Parents of Kate Middleton
In a country where exclusive private schools are known as "public schools" and a "commoner" is pretty much anyone with a single last name, the excitement of the future King of England taking an "ordinary" girl for his wife doesn't quite tell the whole story.
The future Queen Catherine attended one of England's top schools, Marlborough College, where boarding fees are $47,957 a year, and her former flight dispatcher father and air hostess mother have made millions running a party accessories business.
While the details of their precise wealth are unknown, the Daily Mail speculatesthat they could be worth as much $49 million. In 2002 they apparently spent $1.3 million in cash on a London flat for Kate. With that sort of money, they should easily be able to cover their contribution to the cost of the wedding – expected to be around $160,000.
Status: Former CEO
The former CEO and Chairman of Riggs Bank in Washington DC, will be at the wedding as a guest of William's father, Prince Charles, according to The Daily Mail. Once known as the "President’s bank," Riggs, under Allbritton's leadership was hit with a series of damaging scandals.
In 2004, the bank was fined $25 million by U.S. authorities for violating money laundering laws , and less than a year later, the bank and the Allbritton family agreed to pay $9 million in compensation to victims of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for concealing and facilitating the movement of Pinochet's assets.
Status: Crown Prince of the Netherlands
Estimated fortune: $200 million
The Dutch Queen Beatrix won't be attending the royal wedding, but her eldest son and heir-apparent, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, is expected to be at the ceremony accompanied by his Argentine wife, Princess Maxima, Forbes reports.
Status: International Celebrities
Estimated fortune: $237 million
Long before David Beckham became Major League Soccer's highest - paid player, the Beckhams lived in a house in Hertfordshire nicknamed "Beckingham Palace." Prince William and the former England soccer captain hit it off last year, when they joined British Prime Minister David Cameron in an unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 soccer World Cup. Forbes estimates David Beckham earned $44 million last year, and the Sunday Times values Victoria's dress sales at $7.5 million in 2010. Together, Britain's other "royal" couple are valued at $237 million.
Estimated fortune: $300 million
Following a number of conflicting reports on whether Sir Elton (who famously sang at the funeral of William’s mother in 1997) was invited to the wedding, the pop star seemed to confirm on television that he and partner David Furnish will be at Westminster Abbey on April 29.
In an interview on Canadian TV, Elton John said, “Yeah, I think we will” when asked about his attendance at the wedding, ending months of speculation.
However, it’s unlikely the singer will perform, as it’s believed the royal couple has chosen a more traditional musical line up.
Status: Queen of England
Estimated fortune: $450 million
William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, married the Duke of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey in 1947. The UK taxpayer spent $67 million maintaining the Royal household in 2010, according to the Sunday Times of London.
British blue-chip firms dominate the monarch's investment portfolio, worth an estimated $147 million, and the Queen's wealth is topped up with jewelry, cars, horses and the legacy left to her by the Queen Mother.
However, the extensive royal art collection and property portfolio, The Crown Estate, is excluded from the Sunday Times estimate, which could add another $10.8 billion to the Queen's fortune based on the value of the estate in 2010.
Status: Sultan of Oman
Fortune: $700 million
Sultan Qaboos bin Said — who served in the British army and trained at British military academy Sandhurst (also attended by Princes William and Harry) — is invited to the big day, reports the Daily Mail of London.
Childless and divorced, there is much speculation over who will inherit his wealth, but the Sultan has dedicated his resources to reducing Oman's GDP dependence on oil, currently responsible for 40 percent of the nation's wealth.
Status: Prince of Monaco
Fortune: $1 billion
At 52, the former 'playboy' Prince will marry South African ex-Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock on July 9, 2011 , and they are both invited to Prince William’s wedding, Forbes.com reports.
With an estimated $1 billion dollars in the Grimaldi family coffers and a very long wait for the residents of the tiny principality to see Albert tie the knot, the Monaco head of state's nuptials may well outdo those of the future British King.
Status: Virgin Entrepreneur
Fortune: $2.8 billion
Sir Richard Branson, his wife, and daughter Holly (once tipped as a potential love interest for Prince William) have been invited to the Royal nuptials, according to several British newspaper reports. Sir Richard’s son Sam hinted in the British Daily Mail that his parents have been invited, but he added he was “not going . ”The Daily Telegraph reports Holly Branson will be at the wedding and the evening reception as a close friend of Kate Middleton’s.
Sir Richard, who started Virgin as a record label in the 1970s, now boasts ownership of planes, trains, internet services, wine, health clubs and even space travel, with Virgin Galactic taking passengers beyond the earth's atmosphere for a fee of $200,000.
Status: King of Saudi Arabia
Fortune: $18 billion
The Saudi Royals owe their vast wealth to the desert kingdom's oil reserves, Saudi Arabia being responsible for one- fifth of the entire world's supply. The Saudi King Abdullah bin Abul Aziz has been invited to the wedding, according to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, and with an estimated fortune of $18 billion , William and Kate can expect quite a wedding gift.
Status: Sultan of Brunei
Fortune: $20 billion
The British Royal Family might be the most famous in the world, but the House of Windsor’s matriarch, the Queen, lags far behind her counterpart in the oil-rich kingdom of Brunei in wealth.
The 29th Sultan of the former British protectorate, once the richest man in the world, has a fortune of $20 billion according to Forbes.com. It is not yet clear whether the Sultan will attend the wedding, but he is believed to have been invited, according to British publications.