Today is the day Prince William and Kate Middleton get married at Westminster Abbey.
The bride’s parents, the Middletons, will make a “private contribution,” but the Royal Family will pay for nearly all of the celebration. The festivities are expected to cost a reported $30 million; a huge sum, to be sure, but likely less than half the estimated cost, adjusted for inflation, of Princess Diana’s and Prince Charles’ 1981 wedding, also paid for by the Royal Family. (The Government and other bodies will pay for costs that are consequential to the wedding like extra security.)
Most of the assets on display during the Royal Wedding do not belong to the Queen.
250 years ago, the Queen’s third great grandfather, George III, gave virtually all royal property to the government, in order to get taxpayers to forever pay to maintain them.
Queen Elizabeth, 85, has an estimated personal net worth of $500 million that comes from property holdings including Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, stud farms, a fruit farm and marine land throughout the U.K.; extensive art and fine jewelry; and one of the world’s largest stamp collections built by her grandfather.
Not included are those assets belonging to the Crown Estate, which she gets to enjoy as Queen, such as $10 billion worth of real estate, Buckingham Palace (estimated to be worth another $5 billion), the Royal Art collection, and unmarked swans on stretches of the Thames. The Crown has claimed ownership of these birds since the 12th century when swan meat was considered a delicacy; they are no longer eaten. The Queen also receives an annual government stipend of $12.9 million.
Because most of her wealth is tied to her position and not hers personally – in otherwords, she could never sell the royal assets – she is not included among the World’s Billionaires but did appear among theWorld’s Richest Royals in our most recent rankings.
As heir to the throne, Prince Charles, 62, got $28 million last year from Duchy of Cornwall Estate. He spends well over half of aftertax income on official duties and charitable activities including more than $10 million last year on salaries of 150 staffers.
Princess Diana reportedly left both Prince William, 28, and Prince Harry, 26, $10 million after taxes. They apparently started receiving annual dividends at age 25, estimated at $450,000 a year. They get the full sums when each turns 30. Prince William also earns between $68,000 and $74,000 a year as a flight lieutenant with the Royal Air Force while Prince Harry receives between $50,000 and $53,000 as a helicopter pilot for the Army Air Corps. Prince William and Kate will eventually live in an eco friendly house built by Prince Charles in Herefordshire. Both princes have Ducati Superbikes that they sometimes ride for charity. Prince Harry is also a keen polo player.
The following article from CNBC lists the family’s royal assets
Buckingham Palace: The Queen’s primary residence in London where she will host an evening party for 300 family and friends the night of the wedding.
Windsor Castle: The retreat 20 miles west of Buckingham Palace, near Heathrow Airport, where the Queen prefers to stay because she says it’s more comfortable.
Crown Jewels: A collection of scepters, swords, rings and crowns normally secured at the Tower of London. During the Royal Wedding members of the Windsor family will wear them as symbols of their right to rule.
The Royal Collection: 200,000 drawings, prints and paintings—including works by Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Caravaggio—collected over 500 years. It also includes furniture, textiles, armor and one of the finest Faberge collections in the world. Value d at $16 billion.
The Duchy of Lancaster: A portfolio of property assembled 600 years ago. 72 square miles of farm and city land (an area about three times the size of Manhattan). Valued at $570 million.
The Crown Estate: An even more impressive portfolio of land, eight times larger, that includes iconic properties in London like Regent Street, Piccadilly and the Park Lane sites of The Four Seasons and Intercontinental hotels. 12,000 tenants are paying rent on 560 square miles of land across England and Wales. The estate even includes all UK coastal waters within 12 miles of land, where energy companies are increasingly paying to construct wind farms. Valued at $12 billion.
Last year the Crown Estate alone generated $342 million. But, as with virtually all these royal assets, that cash went straight to the UK government. In return, the taxpayer pays the Queen a fixed, annual allowance.
There’s one exception. The UK government still hands the Queen income from the smaller of the two property portfolios. Last year she received $21.8 million from the Duchy Lancaster.
Taxpayers also give Elizabeth an annual allowance of $23.3 million for performing 360 engagements a year as Head of State. The Palace says she spends 70 percent of that on servants and entertaining 50,000 guests, mostly feeding them afternoon tea in the garden of Buckingham Palace.
Taxpayers also pay the Queen $25.9 million in expenses to maintain her palaces. $6.4 million towards the Royal Train, helicopters and jets. And an additional $6.4m towards other costs, like State Visits.
In total, each year the Queen gets $83.8 million from government.
It’s widely assumed Elizabeth also receives a multi-million dollar income stream from her private portfolio of stocks and bonds.
Even so, is the Queen’s own son richer that she is? Has Charles inherited property of greater value and does he have a bigger disposable income? Is Prince Charles richer?
Windsor Money follows first-born males. It mirrors succession to the throne. It’s all or nothing.
Other royal families in Europe have given their daughters the same inheritance rights as their sons. But the Windsor family remains exempt from equality legislation because parliaments would have to vote through new laws everywhere the Queen rules, from Canada and Australia to Saint Lucia and Belize.
As Elizabeth’s first male son, Charles instantly became heir to the throne at birth and instantly inherited a property portfolio currently worth over one billion dollars: 200 square miles of land known as the Duchy of Cornwall.
Last year, that estate generated $28 million in cash for Charles. His siblings get nothing.
The government does not own this estate. Charles actively manages it. Officially he’s not allowed to profit from the sale of any assets. But could he sell? Does Charles own inherited Royal assets in a way the Queen does not?
Elizabeth can lay personal claim to a country house in Sandringham, a few stud farms, Balmoral Castle in Scotland and her father’s stamp collection. But Forbes says that’s only worth $500 million.
Charles on the other hand has a one billion dollar property portfolio, worth twice that—without beginning to count his homes.
Does Charles also have more disposable cash to spend than his mother?
His annual $28 million income equates to more than 60 percent of what taxpayers give the Queen that’s not directly linked to reimbursing expenses. But Elizabeth’s additional outgoings are far greater.
There are 800 servants at Buckingham Palace alone. Plus the Queen funds the rest of the Windsor family: upwards of $2 million in annual cash handouts in addition to paying rents to the government on Royal apartments that they would otherwise occupy for free.
Charles must provide for Camilla and his sons. But both princes are salaried pilots in the armed forces. More importantly their late mother, Diana left each of them $10 million—providing both with an investment income of $450,000 a year, according to Forbes.
Even the official website of the Prince admits that—after paying his own 174 servants and charitable activities—Charles still has 40 percent of his after-tax income to play with.