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There's no question that the British royal family is wealthy.
Look at their homes,  their transportation
Their weddings. Their jet-setting ---
They live the lifestyles of the richest people on earth.
So, when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they wanted a new financial relationship with
the monarchy... ...it opened up questions about how the British
family really makes their money, and what exactly are Harry and Meghan leaving behind?
It turns out, the search for those answers starts with some of the most iconic royal
real estate.
This map shows some of the real estate in the UK that is associated with the royal family.
This is Balmoral castle in Scotland—where the Queen spends her summers.
This is the Savoy chapel, nestled between buildings in central London.
And this is Windsor castle, just outside of London, where the Queen often hosts foreign
leaders.  Each one of these three properties represents
a different way the royal family makes their fortune.
The first is one of two that falls in the Queen's private wealth - which means if
she were to leave the throne, it would still be hers.
These can be traced back to the 1800s when Queen Victoria bought them and they've been
passed down through generations.  The other set of properties that contribute
to their private wealth are the Duchies…   Am I saying that right? Duchies?
Duchies that's right.  There is something called the Duchy of Lancaster.
This is an old estate, ancestral estate dating back to the 14th century. It's now a portfolio
of property and it provides a private income for the queen.
That portfolio includes historic sites and land throughout the UK - which is a lot.
But the most profitable property are these blocks of commercial real estate in central
London, which includes Savoy Chapel.  There's also the Duchy of Cornwall, 130,000
acres of property that includes castles, holiday cottages and a cricket stadium in London.
Over the past 60 years, the Duchies have become increasingly profitable. In 2019 they each
made just over 20 million pounds for the royal family.
The income from the Duchy of Cornwall goes to the heir to the throne, Prince Charles.
-- About 5 million pounds of that went to his sons, William and Harry, in 2019.
And the income from the Duchy of Lancaster goes to the Queen.
But there's a catch.  "She only gets that because… she's queen.
It goes with the job. If she abdicated tomorrow, she wouldn't get 30 million dollars a year. It goes with the Crown, as it were.
And because it goes with the crown, it's not really, totally a private estate
The best guess of the net worth of the Queen, the richest royal family member, is about
$370 million pounds.  That's obviously rich, but it puts her nowhere
near the richest people in the world.
The illusion of the royal family's wealth is greater than their actual wealth because
of the third way they make money: These properties are part of what's called
the “Crown Estate.”  The Crown Estate includes iconic landmarks,
like Windsor Castle, Buckingham palace and the Tower of London. It also includes commercial
real estate in London. And lots of land, including the seabed around the UK.
This group is worth billions of pounds - but - it doesn't actually figure into the Queen's
And the reason behind that can be traced back to a time the royals really needed money.
"In the 18th century, you had a long list of German kings,
the Georges. Georges I, II to IV. And they wasted a lot of money, and they were terrible with money. And
they got into lots of trouble with the government,  and in the end, one of the Georges, George
III said, 'I'm broke. I'll give you all my crown lands.' These were the personal lands owned by the King. 'And in return you give me
a set amount of money.'" So they gave up ownership of all these lands
in exchange for taxpayer money that would pay for the royal family's lifestyle.
This part of their income today is called the sovereign grant.
Between 2018 and 2019, that amounted to about 80 million pounds.
We don't know exactly how much of the sovereign grant went to Harry and Meghan, but it accounts
for 5% of the couple's income as part of their royal titles, the other 95% comes from
the Duchy of Cornwall.  The sovereign grant funding doesn't go into
the royal family's pockets, it's supposed to “enable Her Majesty to carry out her
official duties,” like to travel, to pay her staff and to “maintain the royal residencies.”
Even so, taxpayer support for the monarchy has long been controversial. And that became
evident when Windsor Castle caught fire in 1992.
“Smoke continued to roll from gaping holes in the roof”
"15 hours and 1.5 million
gallons of water later, as the royal treasures littered the lawn like an upmarket garage
sale, it was learned there was no fire insurance.”
Radio host: “Should you, will you, pay for
the repair of Windsor Castle. Patricia in Notting Hill, Hello.” "Hello." "Hello, what do you think?" “No, absolutely not.”
“I don't see why, us as the taxpayers, should pay for the Windsor Castle fire, when it's actually her house.”
That debate continues today—every time the sovereign grant report comes out.
“The report shows just how much money is used to support the Queen…”
“The new home of Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, cost the public nearly $2.5 million pounds
to refurbish, that's more than $3 million.”
But the argument in favor of public funding
usually centers on how much people have always loved the royal family–and are willing to
pay for it.  The monarchy attracts millions of tourists
every year. Their baby announcements and their weddings and even their scandals are broadcast
around the world.  Now, the royal family is all about image.
They don't actually have that much formal power.
What they do have is a brand… they've been called one of the most valuable brands in
Britain. But a big part of maintaining that brand is
to not exploit it.  … if are a working royal, you're not really
allowed to have a private source of income. You're not allowed to cash in.
That means not working outside of their official royal duties, like diplomacy and charity work.
And that these real estate portfolios are the primary way they make money.
This is the financial model that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are leaving behind.
In their announcement in early 2020, they said they'd give all this up in favor of
being “financially independent.”  What they'd be taking with them is their
private wealth, which is a lot. Meghan was a successful actress on the TV series Suits, and Harry inherited
millions from his mother, Princess Diana. They could also keep earning income from the
Duchy of Cornwall.  What they would be giving up is this part
of their income.  And also breaking free from the limitations
of taxpayer funding.
But with that independence comes the fear that they'll be committing the ultimate
royal taboo: capitalizing off the monarchy.  “They could be viewed as using the monarchy
to boost their brand.”  “They're already in talks with Disney,
they are talking to Oprah.
“The very future of the monarchy could be at stake here. Especially if the brand that Meghan and Harry have created @SussexRoyal eventually eclipses
the brand of the British royals. But in one important respect, it's rather
healthy because what it has done, it has raised to the surface a number of issues, not just to do with Harry,
but to do with the whole royal family that haven't been properly addressed. For instance…
How does a royal make a living?  And maybe it needs to loosen up a bit to be
a bit more flexible
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How the British royal family makes money

60 Folder Collection
Courtney Shih published on February 25, 2020
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