The royals are the public faces of a £23bn empire, so why is money at the root of their consequences?

King Charles, Prince William overlaid their properties

Google “how rich is the royal family?” and it’s difficult to get a clear idea of ​​what the House of Windsor is actually worth. According to Forbes, which has tracked the wealth of the world’s richest for more than a century, the royals are “the public faces of a £23 billion empire that injects hundreds of millions of pounds into the UK economy every year”.

American magazine describes ‘Monarchy Plc’ as ‘a global business enterprise ranging from prime real estate in central London to remote farmland in Scotland’, arriving at this figure by roughly dividing the assets of the Crown Estate (£16 billion), Buckingham Palace (£4bn), the Duchy of Cornwall (£1bn), the Duchy of Lancaster (£620m), Kensington Palace (£520m) and the Crown Estate Scotland (£400m).

Forbes also estimated that Elizabeth II had a personal fortune of around £415 million “thanks to her investments, art, jewels and property, including two castles: Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle”, which is now passed to Charles III. was passed on.

the Queen in Green - Chris Jackson /AFP

the Queen in Green – Chris Jackson /AFP

While the royals may not own that £23bn directly, it’s fair to say that thanks to the inheritance they are all multi-millionaires in their own right. That makes it all the more odd why money seemed to be at the root of so many of her recent ills.

If it wasn’t bad enough that Prince Harry complained to Oprah Winfrey in 2021 that “my family literally cut me off financially” and said of Megxit, “I have what my mother left me and we wouldn’t have been without it.” able to do so,” the US-based Sussexes are now being evicted from Frogmore Cottage, their British homeland, in a move friends have described as “cruel”.

US-based Sussexes now being evicted from Frogmore Cottage, their UK home - Flickr

US-based Sussexes now being evicted from Frogmore Cottage, their UK home – Flickr

It is believed that the Duke of York was offered the keys to the five-bedroom house, a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle. It follows reports that the king is planning to cut his brother’s £249,000 annual stipend, leaving the duke unable to meet the running costs of his own, larger Windsor home, the Royal Lodge. Responding to claims “his brother wants to evict him,” a royal source said the reports appeared to be based on “fears, incomplete facts,” stressing that King Charles will not leave the Duke homeless or destitute, just wants to that Andrew uses his own money to pay for things.

He is believed to have guaranteed the Duke a reduced income and a home, and is understood to have agreed to privately pay for the Duke’s security, which is estimated at £3million a year after the Home Office had axed its bodyguards from Scotland Yard.

“It’s about money, not malice,” said an insider. However, sources close to Prince Andrew say he is reluctant to leave his family home of 20 years, although he accepts that “it all seems to come down to budgets and running costs”. Like his siblings Princess Anne, 72, and the Earl of Wessex, 58, Prince Andrew, 63, is said to have received a sizeable inheritance from the late Queen and Prince Philip.

Her Majesty was fond of pampering her four children – not to mention the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, whose penchant for lavish hospitality was legendary. But with the 74-year-old king set to rule over a “slimmed-down” value-for-money monarchy, will royals be tightening their wallets anytime soon? And what impact might that have on a monarchy that can never “cash in”? Accommodation is certainly a problem area. The Crown owns 14 royal residences, including Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Kensington Palace and Windsor Castle, but only Buckingham Palace is currently occupied.

The Prince and Princess of Wales recently moved from Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace to Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor Great Park estate – with their children Prince George, nine, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four, in the pool Windsor Castle, they have no immediate plans to move there. (The couple privately own Anmer Hall, their hideout on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk.)

The Cambridges - Jonathan Brady /AFP

The Cambridges – Jonathan Brady /AFP

Add to the official properties the King’s privately owned houses, including Sandringham House, Balmoral Castle, Birkhall and Highgrove House, and Charles’ real estate empire looks far from cost-effective.

While there is no indication that the Wessexes will be moved from Bagshot House, which like Royal Lodge is leased from the Crown Estate (Anne owns Gatcombe Park privately), the decision to evict the Sussexes shows that the King is actively reassessing the portfolio .

Princess Anne's privately owned home in Gatcombe - UK Press

Princess Anne’s privately owned home in Gatcombe – UK Press

Royal aides have suggested he plans to ‘repurpose’ some of the properties into visitor attractions – and is even exploring the possibility of Buckingham Palace opening year-round. But it won’t seem “slim” to many that the King occupies no fewer than five estates in Scotland alone. (Control of the Duchy of Cornwall’s estates in Wales and the Isles of Scilly, along with Highgrove House, passed to the Prince of Wales as the new Duke of Cornwall when his father ascended the throne.)

Underage royals, including Prince Andrew’s daughter Princess Beatrice, can use apartments at St James’s Palace, while his other daughter Princess Eugenie lives in Ivy Cottage at Kensington Palace. But with her mother, the Duchess of York, recently buying a £4.25million stable block in Belgravia, Uncle Charles would be justified in suggesting they move there – not least because it’s in one of London’s poshest postcodes.

St. James's Palace - iStock Editorial

St. James’s Palace – iStock Editorial

As non-working royals, Beatrice and Eugenie have their own careers and make their own living – but if rents suddenly become more expensive than peppercorns, might those further down the pecking order be forced to look for other money-slingers? The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s journey to ‘financial independence’ is a prime example of how enforced economic autonomy sometimes comes at greater cost.

After signing multi-million pound deals with the likes of Netflix, Spotify and Penguin Random House, which published Harry’s autobiography Spare in January, the Sussexes got their pound of meat by unleashing their nearest and dearest. But the couple might have made things a little easier for their loved ones if “Favorite Dad” hadn’t pulled the plug and still subsidized their safety bill.

King Charles and Queen Camilla - Chris Jackson /Getty Images

King Charles and Queen Camilla – Chris Jackson /Getty Images

The consensus is that Harry would never have published Spare if the late Queen had still been alive, having reportedly asked for his autobiography to be withdrawn after visiting his grandmother during her platinum jubilee weekend last June – one of the reasons why the release was later delayed until her death last September.

The sensational memoir, which includes intimate details of Prince Harry’s conversations with the royals, drove a carriage and horses through the late monarch’s mantra of ‘never explain, never complain’ and created a sort of royal glasnost that could now be seen as a precedent others to monetize their connections to the royal family.

Mike Tindall, the former rugby player who is married to Princess Anne’s daughter Zara – the late Queen’s granddaughter – is rumored to have made £150,000 starring on reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! last fall despite fears that his participation in kangaroo-testicle-eating bushtucker trials could “humiliate” the monarchy.

Eyebrows were similarly raised when Zara’s brother Peter Phillips appeared in an ad for Jersey milk in communist China in 2020 and was described as a “member of the British royal family”.

the Isles of Scilly - Chris Jackson Collection

the Isles of Scilly – Chris Jackson Collection

This week Mike and Zara – a renowned equestrian – gave bookmaker William Hill a joint interview as part of what is believed to be a paid partnership ahead of next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

But after the Sussexes’ revelations, is anyone likely to bat an eyelid if one of the royals now decides to publish their own autobiographies? Compared to the couple’s televised interview with Oprah, it seems unlikely that people like Beatrice and Eugenie, who get paid to appear on a reality show or pursue some other commercial endeavor, will shake the boat as much as they did five years ago.

As veteran royal reporter Phil Dampier puts it: “Although Mike Tindall reportedly informed Prince William that he was going to the jungle and William apparently said ‘do it’, I don’t think he would have if.” the queen had been alive . But the fact that the Prince of Wales approved it shows how far the dial has moved.

“The king will do things differently than his late mother. The Queen was the glue that held everything together and things were made a certain way because she had been doing it that way for 70 years. But now she’s gone, for different reasons, child royals and non-working royals need to be more self-sufficient.”

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