Prince Charles will not only become the King but also inherit his mother’s fortune worth billions following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Much of the Queen's wealth is owned by an entity known as the Royal Firm. Charles may not get all of the Queen's $28 billion fortune but he will sure be entitled to the personal assets that the late monarch designated specifically for him.
Prince Charles also has another advantage as there is a legal relief that exempts the Charles from paying inheritance tax on his mother’s estate. As per an agreement with former British Prime Minister John Major in 1993, inheritance from sovereign to sovereign is out of the 40 per cent inheritance tax ambit. The arrangement was made to eschew erosion of the monarchy’s wealth.
As the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II was entitled to an annual income from the state. Besides this, she had an empire worth $28 billion known as The Royal Firm and personal assets amounting to around $570 million. The Crown Estate and Privy Purse were also other instruments at the monarch’s disposal.
Personal assets of Queen Elizabeth II
Apart from her mother’s assets, she accumulated nearly $500 million in personal assets. This wealth came from investments, art collection, jewellery and real estate holdings like Balmoral Castle and the Sandringham House.
Talking of inheritance, she not only got the throne but also approximately $70 million from the Queen Mother after her death in 2002. This comprised investments in paintings (works by Monet, Nash and Carl Faberge), fine china, jewels, horses, a valuable Faberge egg collection and a stamp collection.
Queen Elizabeth II’s annual income
Queen Elizabeth II was entitled to an annual income from a UK taxpayers’ fund known as the Sovereign Grant, which was originally known as the Civil List. The concept of Sovereign Grants for the monarchy was institutionalised when King George III made an agreement to get a fixed yearly payment for himself and his future generations by surrendering his income from the British Parliament.
In 2021 and 2022, the amount via this grant was limited to over 86 million pounds. The Queen could use these funds for official travel, operational or maintenance costs of Buckingham Palace and maintenance of other properties.
What does The Royal Firm do?
The Royal Firm refers to her $28 billion empire which generated enormous revenue for the UK economy. Also known as Monarchy PLC, this entity is a grouping of senior royals and public faces of the House of Windsor – Prince Charles and wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; Prince William and wife Kate, the Duchess of Kate; Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter; and the Queen’s youngest son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.
They together operate several businesses via this entity and generate revenue worth hundreds of millions of pounds even if they do not profit from these businesses.
Under this entity, the British royal family has properties worth $28 billion which cannot be sold or auctioned– Crown Estate ($19.5 billion); Buckingham Palace ($4.9 billion); the Duchy of Cornwall ($1.3 billion); the Duchy of Lancaster ($748 million); Kensington Palace (around $630 million) and the Crown Estate ($592 million), as per Forbes.
The Crown Estate
Run by a semi-independent public board, the Crown Estate refers to lands and holdings belonging to the British monarchy. The Crown Estate announced net revenue profit worth 312.7 million pounds for the financial year 2021-22.
Crown Estate CEO Dan Labbad said, “Over the last ten years, we have contributed over 3 billion pounds for public spending through the active management of a portfolio that now stands at 15.6 billion pounds in value.”
These numbers are significant as the funding for the Sovereign Grant comes from a portion of the profits from the revenue, earlier capped at 15 per cent. The Royal Trustees – Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Keeper of the Privy Purse – review the grant amount every five years. Off late, this grant stands at 25 per cent.
It is used for expenses like staff payroll, security, travel, maintenance and housekeeping whereas a separate allowance, also known as the Privy Purse, is used for the private expenses of the Queen and the extended royal family.
Her Highness’ Privy Purse
The Privy Purse comprises properties (agricultural, commercial and residential) and assets which provide private income to Her Highness from the Duchy of Lancaster, as per its official website. The Duchy of Lancaster held net assets worth 652.8 million pounds under its control and logged a net surplus of 24 million pounds as of March this year.
While the Queen is not entitled to net assets, she does get the net surplus worth 24 million pounds. These 24 million pounds are taxable and used to cover expenses not covered under the Sovereign Grant.
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