Where does the UK royal family get all its money? Queen Elizabeth made millions from property assets, while Prince William inherits the US$1.2 billion Duchy of Cornwall from dad King Charles
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth wasn’t as rich as you might think.
Elizabeth II had a net worth of US$442.92 million (£340 million), The Sunday Times estimated in 2016. That’s vastly more than any other members of the royal family – including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have a shared fortune of US$30 million, Insider previously reported.
Following the queen’s death, Prince Charles became King Charles III and replaced his mother as the reigning monarch and owner of the Crown Estate.
Here’s how the British royal family makes their fortune.
The royal family gets a chunk of cash from taxpayers
Every year the royal family gets a state handout called the Sovereign Grant. It comes from the treasury and is funded by taxpayers.
The basic agreement is that the royal family gets the grant in exchange for surrendering all profits from the Crown Estate – the family’s massive portfolio of properties – to the government. Every year, the reigning monarch is given an amount of money equivalent to 25 per cent of the Crown Estate’s profits.
The grant totalled US$107.1 million (£82.2 million) in 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Sovereign Grant pays for property upkeep and utilities, the family’s travel, and royal employee payroll. But The Telegraph notes that the grant doesn’t cover costs of security and royal ceremonies – that money comes from a few other places.
The reigning monarch’s private income is called the Privy Purse
That money comes from the Duchy of Lancaster – a portfolio of land and other assets that’s been in the royal family for hundreds of years. It contains US$715 million (£548.6 million) worth of net assets (including 18,433 hectares of land) and is made up of residential, commercial and agricultural properties, the Wall Street Journal UK reported.
It brought in US$27 million (£20.7 million) in 2019, according to The Journal. According to the royal family website, this sum helps with costs not covered by the Sovereign Grant – namely, it’s used to pay “expenses incurred by other members of the royal family”.
The Queen had plenty of other valuable assets that added to her net worth
The Queen also outright owned Balmoral and Sandringham Estates, an expansive art collection, and other valuable assets that had been passed down from earlier monarchs.
The unknown total value of the family’s property network makes it difficult to estimate any total net worth, although a royal finance expert did tell The Journal that the royal family members are “millionaires, not billionaires”.
The King had a major income stream of his own – now Prince Harry will inherit it
The Duchy of Cornwall – yet another suite of properties owned by the royal family – covered the expenses of Prince Charles and his heirs. That means Harry and Meghan, William and Kate, and their children were all covered by the Duchy of Cornwall, too. Charles paid them a combined US$6.5 million (£5 million) in 2019, according to The Journal, while the fund paid Charles US$28.1 million (£21.6 million). Its total value has been placed at around US$1.2 billion (£923.8 million).
Royals aren’t allowed to earn any money from outside sources
“We could easily compare them to any former presidents,” Meinzer said. “My mind keeps going to Barack and Michelle Obama and how [they] make money. The reason I compare the two is that they’re already friends with each other and I would put them on the same level in terms of fame.”
- “Millionaires, not billionaires” – the Queen’s net worth was placed at around US$450 million before her death, thanks to the private Privy Purse and tax-funded Sovereign Grant
- Earning your own cash is actually frowned upon for royals – but since stepping back Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have made millions from Netflix and Spotify deals