- Chris Jackson/Getty Images
- The Queen‘s historic 68-year reign hasn’t been entirely funded by taxpayers.
- She profits from a land trust called the Duchy of Lancaster in addition to the estates and artwork she inherited from her father.
- Prince Charles paid Harry and Meghan, William and Kate, and their children a combined $6.5 million (£5 million) in 2019, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- The Sunday Times estimated the Queen’s net worth to be $442.92 million (£340 million) in 2016, which makes her far from the richest person in Britain.
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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II – who ascended to the throne 68 years ago as of February 6 – isn’t as rich as you might think.
Elizabeth II has a net worth of $442.92 million (£340 million), derived from a grant from taxpayers and two additional income sources, 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 $30 million, Business Insider reported.
Nonetheless, the young couple announced their decision to “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family” and work towards financial independence in a statement released on January 8.
Here’s how the British royal family makes their fortune.
Every year, the Queen gets a chunk of cash from taxpayers called the Sovereign Grant.
It comes from the treasury and it’s funded by taxpayers, according to the BBC.
The basic agreement is that the Queen 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 Queen is given an amount of money equivalent to 25% of the Crown Estate’s profits.
The Grant totaled $107.1 million (£82.2 million) in 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Sovereign Grant pays for the family’s travel, palace upkeep and utilities, and royal employee payroll, according to official royal family financial reports. 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 Queen’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 $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, Wall Street Journal UK correspondent Max Colchester reported.
It brought in $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 also has other valuable assets that add to her net worth.
The Queen also outright owns Balmoral and Sandringham Estates, an expansive art collection, and other valuable assets that have been passed down from earlier monarchs, Wall Street Journal’s Colchester said on a January 14 episode of The Journal’s What’s News podcast.
The unknown total value of Her Royal Highness’ property makes it difficult to estimate her total net worth, according to The Journal. A royal finance expert did tell The Journal that the royal family members are “millionaires, not billionaires.”
In 2016, The Sunday Times estimated the Queen’s net worth to be $442.92 million (£340 million).
Prince Charles has a major income stream of his own.
- Sean Gallup/Getty Images
The Duchy of Cornwall – yet another suite of properties owned by the royal family – covers the expenses of Prince Charles and his heirs. That means Harry and Meghan, William and Kate, and their children are all covered by the Duchy of Cornwall, too. Charles paid them a combined $6.5 million (£5 million) in 2019, according to The Journal.
The Duchy paid Charles $28.1 million (£21.6 million), The Journal reported. Its total value is $1.2 billion (£923.8 million).
The Queen and the Prince of Wales effectively control most of the royal family’s fortune and divvy out payments to support other family members, The Journal reported.
Royals who work for the Crown full time aren’t allowed to earn any money from outside sources, however.
- Steve Parsons / Getty
That rule will no longer apply to Meghan and Harry as they complete their transition to their “progressive new role” within the royal family.
The couple will likely use book deals and speaking engagements to fund their luxurious tastes going forward, while other expenses like their security detail will remain on British taxpayers, royal commentators previously told Business Insider. Even though Harry has never had a job outside of his military service, it likely won’t take much effort for them to start raking in multimillion-dollar paychecks. The Sussexes have “great earning potential,” royal commentator and author Kristen Meinzer told Business Insider.
“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.”
The Duke and Duchess will likely start receiving book offers as soon as they are cleared to generate their own income, and the value of those offers will likely be in the neighborhood of the $60 million advance that Barack and Michelle Obama were reportedly paid for the rights to their memoirs in 2017, according to Meinzer.
The Atlantic’s Joanna Weiss theorized that the couple could leverage their massively popular @SussexRoyal Instagram account with sponsored content, but Meinzer says she doesn’t expect that the couple will be hawking Sugar Bear Hair vitamins like Kylie Jenner and the Kardashians.
- Read more:
- How the royal family will change now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are giving up their titles
- 10 warning signs that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were ready to leave the royal family
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle want to be ‘financially independent.’ Here are 6 other royals who have forged their own careers.
- The parallels between Prince Harry and his great-granduncle Edward VIII, who left the British throne for an American divorcée, go far beyond their wives