The British monarchy is richer than ever. Queen Elizabeth became the longest serving royal ever on September 9 after 63 years on the throne. Reuters found that the British monarchy has benefitted from an increase in house and land prices especially in the wake of the 2007 global financial crisis.
The queen has made headlines by using thrifty space heaters to keep her “chilly” palaces warm. In recent days, however, she has made headlines for a different reason: her family’s vast wealth after years on the throne. According to spokespeople, the queen is actually thrifty, owning little more than a few race horses.
The Reuters estimate posits that, based on the monarchy’s interests, the monarchy now has nominal assets valued at approximately 22.8 billion pounds ($34.8 billion). The family is on the top 20 global rich list. Knowing how much the monarchy is truly worth is not easy, however, since many assets are owned privately, like the Crown Estate, which is the main investment institution of royal wealth and is owned in the interests of the nation by the monarchy until their reign ends.
According to Buckingham Palace, the 11.5 billion pound Crown Estate does not belong to the monarchy, although it does pay for repairs on the queen’s palaces and other desires. Other sources of wealth for the queen are the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, two private estates valued at 1.3 billion pounds. The monarchy’s centuries-old treasure trove, known as the Royal Collection, has an estimated value of 10 billion pounds, according to Brand Finance. The consultancy places the monarchy’s tangible assets at 20 billion pounds.
Neither the Reuters nor Brand Finance conjectures of royal wealth include Buckingham Palace, Windsor nor Balmoral in them. So, realistically, royal wealth far exceeds these estimates. Crown Estate owns much of London’s property, such as half the buildings in the exclusive St. James area of central London.
“You would be hiding behind nomenclature and history to suggest that the Crown Estate is in any way an asset of the queen’s,” a palace spokesman said.
The Crown Estate’s property has doubled in value to 11 billion pounds in the years since the 2007 financial crisis, according to the estimates. “Over the last decade the business has moved from being a traditional landed estate to an active investor and developer,” said a Crown Estate spokesperson. The Crown Estate’s 285.1 million pound net annual profit this year is a record.
“The queen’s wealth is hidden in smoke and mirrors,” said Philip Beresford, the author of an annual rich list published since 1989 by the Sunday Times newspaper. Conjecturing about the monarchy’s true wealth is pretty pointless considering its comprised of works that are essentially priceless.
The Royal Collection, for example, contains work by Rembrandt, Poussin and Leonardo da Vinci. The Crown Jewels, including the largest flawless cut diamond in the world and the 530-carat First Star of Africa, are also, basically, priceless.
Image from Shaun Jeffers / Shutterstock.