A Closer Look on the Queen’s Wealth: How Much is Queen Elizabeth II Really Worth?
How much is the Queen’s worth is always the question that has puzzled speculators for decades already. Estimates of her fortune vary from hundreds of millions to billions of pounds. She was once hailed by Guinness World Record as “the wealthiest woman” in the world, while the latest estimate of Bloomberg pegs her wealth at $425 million: $75 million worth of investments, $160 million she inherited from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, $110 million of personal property, $75 million in stamp collection and the $10 million in the Royal Stud. That still makes her one of the wealthiest royals. But these are personal assets.
The Almanach de Gotha asserts that as sovereign, she is worth as much as $100 billion given that the Crown Estates, royal palaces, Crown Jewels, etc., are legally hers. The Almanach also alleges that she is the world’s largest landowner, given than the entire United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other lesser known domains across the seas are her “domains.”
Let us take a closer look at what the Queen owns personally and what she “owns” as a sovereign.
Her personal properties: Balmoral and Sandringham
The Balmoral estate in the Scottish Highlands and the Sandringham estate in Norfolk are the Queen’s personal properties inherited from her father, King George VI. The King, meanwhile, purchased the properties from his brother, the former Edward VIII when he abdicated in 1936. Queen Victoria bought Balmoral in June 1852 for £32,000, while Sandringham was acquired by Queen Victoria as the country retreat of the future King Edward VII in 1862. Sandringham is now valued at $65 million while Balmoral is estimated to be worth $140 million.
The Duchy of Lancaster
The Duchy of Lancaster was established in 1399 as the sovereign’s private estate, held in trust to provide every reigning monarch a source of private income. The duchy covers 18,433 acres of land, which cannot be disposed. The proceeds, though, are allocated to fund the Queen’s private and public expenses. Among the properties of the duchy include the prime Savoy Estate in London, acres of rural lands in England and Wales, and historic properties, such as Lancaster Castle. As of March 2015, the Duchy of Lancaster’s assets are worth £472 million, yielding £16.6 million in profits.
|The Lancaster Castle is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster. It served as a prison until 2011.|
The Crown Estate
The Crown Estate is one of the world’s largest property owners, valued at £12.9 billion in 2016. It manages lands and holdings in the United Kingdom owned by the British monarch, making it the "Sovereign's public estate." However, it is neither government-owned nor the private estate the monarch, as opposed to the Duchy of Lancaster. The Crown Estate was once managed by the reigning monarch, the income of which was used to offset the expense of running the government. However, George III surrendered the estate’s management to the Treasury in exchange of a fix annual income known as the Civil List. Since then, his successors renewed this arrangement upon accession. In April 1, 2012, though, the Sovereign Grant Act 2011 abolished the Civil List. From then on, Queen Elizabeth II receives a percentage of the Crown Estate's annual net revenue (currently set at 15%). This ensured that Her Majesty’s income won’t be at the mercy of politicians. Among the prized assets of the estate include Regent Street, retail parks, shopping centers, and the occupied royal residences.
The Royal Collection
The Royal Collection is the art collection of the British Royal Family managed by the Royal Collection Trust. The collection comprises the art objects owned Queen Elizabeth II as sovereign and items that she owns personally. These include of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, tapestries, furniture, ceramics, books, metal works, armor, jewelry and other historical titbits. Likewise, the Crown Jewels, kept in the Tower of London, is also part of the Royal Collection.
|The Crown Jewels are part of the Royal Collection.|
UK’s Whales, Sturgeons, and Purpoises…
The Queen’s royal prerogative includes ownership of whales, sturgeons and purpoises, which, when caught are the personal property of the monarch.
And all the Unmarked mute swans in open waters, too.
The Royal Charter of Edward IV stipulates that all unmarked mute swans in open waters are the sovereign’s personal property, although that right is only exercised on certain stretches of the Thames. A ceremonial census, known as Swan Upping, is held every July, when swans are rounded, caught, marked and then released.
|The Queen's Swan Uppers.|