When it comes to the British royal family, all that shiny jewelry and those lavish homes we see are often items that have been passed down for generations. And as public servants of the U.K., they don't technically have “salaries.” So, how exactly are these royals able to earn any money? Keep reading to see everything we found out.
How Does the Royal Family Make Money?
1. Are Royal Family Members Allowed to Make Money?
Well, yes and no. This question gets complicated because working royals are not allowed to earn any money through commercial funds. According to royal correspondent Katie Nicholl, “If you are a working royal, then you don’t get to embark on commercial deals because there’s simply too much conflict.”
However, these royals are still allowed to earn money through trusts, which can include personal investments, property and assets.
2. So, How Exactly Do They Earn Their Money?
As pointed out by Architectural Digest, the British royal family mainly makes its money through two different assets: the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster. (Short answer: real estate trusts.)
Now that King Charles III has become monarch, he passed the Duchy of Cornwall, to his eldest son, Prince William. And as AD noted, “Prince William inherited the title of Duke of Cornwall and with it the Duchy of Cornwall, a 128,000-acre estate established in 1337, in order to provide income to the oldest son of the British monarch. It’s estimated to be worth over a billion dollars and provides a yearly income that came to $24 million in 2021.”
If you're wondering why it's so lucrative, the duchy includes an archipelago, a holiday resort, cottages and an organic farm, which all bring in revenue (like the rent that residents pay to the owner of the land, for instance).
Meanwhile, the reigning monarch is traditionally given The Duchy of Lancaster, another piece of profitable territory, which has now been passed to King Charles III.
3. Does Any of Their Money Come from the Government?
According to the official royal family website, much of the monarchy's expenses are paid for by the Sovereign Grant, a system of funding that was established in 2012, which pays for three different fields—Royal Travel, Communications and Information, and the Maintenance of the Royal Palaces.
According to Buckingham Palace: “Funding for the Sovereign Grant comes from a percentage of the profits of the Crown Estate revenue (initially set at 15%)...The new system provides for the Royal Household to be subject to the same audit scrutiny as other government expenditure, via the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee.”
Meanwhile, Oprah Daily reported that not a lot of this money comes from British taxpayers. In fact, each year the taxpayers are only charged about a dollar (65 pence in 2018) to go toward royal fees.
4. What Happens If You Step Down as a Senior Royal (Like the Case of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle?)
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped down from their position as senior working royals, they were essentially “cut off” from all royal funds, most importantly the Sovereign Grant. However, the couple expressed their desire to be financially independent.
Luckily, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were able to survive off of the inheritance that had been passed to Prince Harry from his late mother, Princess Diana. According to Oprah Daily, this inheritance amounted to about $13 million dollars.
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