The British Royalty will take the world spotlight with the upcoming wedding between Prince William and Princess-to-be Kate Middleton, but the family will walk a fine line between royal extravagance and social consciousness during a period of British austerity.
It is no secret that the royal family is one of the wealthiest in the country, but the question remains - just how wealthy are they and what do they actually own? CNBC has investigated the holdings of the royal family, including what they do – and what they do not – own.
So, how rich are the royals? Click ahead to find out.
Posted 27 April 2011
It’s the Queen’s primary residence: Buckingham Palace. Buckingham has an estimated 830,000 square feet of interior space, including grand rooms, state apartments and several lavish rooms open to public tours.
With a constant flow of tourists looking for a glimpse of royalty, Elizabeth II generally prefers to stay 20 miles west at Windsor Castle, the longest occupied palace in Europe, located on the outskirts of London. Interestingly, the Queen owns neither property.
The U.K. Government — not the royal family — owns both Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, which make up a large portion of the $12 billion Crown Estate.
The Government gained official ownership of the castle after the Queen’s 3rd great-grandfather, George III, transferred virtually all Royal properties to the government.
In its portfolio holdings, the Crown Estate lists ownership of major hotels, such as the 5-star Four Seasons in London, the 5-star InterContinental, and a number of properties on Regent Street, one of the major shopping districts in London’s West End.
Whil e the U.K. government gets all revenue from the Crown Estate, from which the Queen receives a yearly allowance. In 2010, the Queen’s annual allowance was $23.4 million (14.2 million pounds) — although The Daily Telegraph reported that partly due to inflation, the Queen’s annual expenses outstripped her allowance by nearly $11 million (7 million pounds).
The bulk of her allowance goes to paying staff, state visits, ceremonial functions, and upkeep of royal households.
The Crown Jewels are the regalia worn by the sovereign of the United Kingdom during state functions such as coronation ceremonies. The crown jewels include crowns, sceptres, orbs, swords, rings and more, some of which date back centuries.
These items make up part of the $16 billion Royal Collection, which includes approximately 200,000 items built up over the centuries. It also includ es one of the world’s finest collections of Faberge Eggs.
The Queen owns more than 72 square miles of farm and urban land as part of the Duchy of Lancaster Estate. The estate is nearly three times the size of Manhattan and is valued at $570 million.
How much income does the Queen actually generate each year and how does she spend it? Aside from her annual allowance of $23.4 million, the Duchy of Lancaster Estate generates approximately $21.8 million each year: $660,000 comes from Parliamentary annuities, $32.5 million from “grants-in-aid” (which includes upkeep of the royal residences) and $6.44 million (travel in direct payments of expenditures from the U.K. government.
To see the official financial statements of the Royal Family from last year, see the website of the British Monarchy.
The Queen isn’t the only one who gets a huge check each year. Her son, Prince Charles of Wales, owns a property portfolio in the west of England valued at over $1 billion. The Duchy of Cornwall Estate, spanning more than 210 square miles, including agricultural, commercial and residential property that generates income of approximately $28 million each year.
Prince Charles is entitled to the income generated from the Duchy of Cornwall Estate in order to meet the costs of his private life, as well as that of his family, including Princes William and Harry.
Interestingly, the Duchy is tax exempt, but the Prince voluntarily pays the 40% income tax on its proceeds. Charles is also in effect a trustee of the land, and is not entitled to the proceeds of disposals of assets. The Prince must pass on the estate intact, so that it continues to provide an income from its assets for future Dukes of Cornwall, according to Royal sources.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is the Queen’s husband and receives an allowance of $585,000 for his role as consort, which involves accompanying the Queen on official duties. Prince Philip is currently the oldest-serving spouse of a reigning monarch.
With around $84 million each year at her disposal, the Queen must also distribute money to her large extended family. Her children and cousins receive cash grants worth between $280,000 and $400,000 each year. They also benefit by having their rent paid on a range of world-class properties across the United Kingdom.
It's unknown whether Prince William, once he is married to Kate Middleton, will get his own pay check from the state or whether he will have to live off his father’s $28 million per year.
It was reported that on his 25th birthday, William’s allowance from his late mother’s estate was increased to $500,000 each year. In addition, Kate’s wedding ring, which is also from the late Princess Diana, has an estimated value of $1 million.
As for the wedding ceremonies themselves, some reports have the wedding cost at as much as $34 million, including security and celebrations. The cost will be shared by the Royal Family, the Middleton family and U.K. taxpayers.