The Private wealth of the Queen

Her Majesty, The Queen has a private income from her personal investment portfolio, though her personal wealth and income are not known, only speculated. Mr. Jock Colville, a former private secretary to the Queen (when she was Princess Elizabeth) and a director of her bank, Coutts, estimated her wealth at £2 million in 1971 (the equivalent of about £28 million today). An official statement from Buckingham Palace in 1993 called estimates of £100 million “grossly overstated”. In 2002, the year of her Golden Jubilee and the subsequent deaths of her sister and her mother, the Queen inherited her mother’s estate, thought to have been worth £70 million(the equivalent of about £112 million today).

Forbes magazine estimated the Queen’s net worth at around $500 million (about £325 million) in 2011, whilst an analysis by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index put it at $425 million (about £275 million) in 2015. In 2012 the Sunday Times estimated the Queen’s wealth as being £310 million ($504 million), and that year the Queen received a Guinness World Record as Wealthiest Queen. The Sunday Times Rich List estimated her wealth at £340 million, making her the 302nd richest person in the United Kingdom; that was the first year she was not amongst the Sunday Times Rich List’s top 300 most wealthy people since the list began in 1989. She was number one in the UK on the list when it began in 1989. Her land holdings as a private individual and not as The Crown, consist of the Balmoral and Sandringham estates which are privately owned by Her Majesty.

The Crown Estate

The Crown Estate is one of the largest property owners in the United Kingdom, turning over £329.4 million to the Treasury in the financial year 2017-2018 with a total turnover in profit of £2.7 billion over the past ten years for public benefit. Capital Benefit f the Crown Estate was up 7.3% to £14.1bn, with property value up 6.8% to £13.3bn.

The Crown Estate is not the private property of the Monarch, therefore The Queen is not the owner, but she is the Proprietor. The Crown Estate cannot be sold or owned by the sovereign in a private capacity, nor do any revenues, or debts, from the estate accrue to her individually. Instead, the Crown Estate is owned by The Crown which is a corporation sole, representing the legal embodiment of the state. It is held in trust and governed by an independent Board of Directors as outlined by Acts of Parliament, to which the Crown Estate makes an annual report. For more on The Crown Estate, click here.

Assets held in trust

A number of State possessions are held in trust by the Sovereign such as:

  • The Royal Collection – which is the art collection of the British royal family. It is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world, containing over 7,000 paintings, 40,000 watercolours and drawings, about 150,000 old master prints, historical photographs, tapestries, furniture, ceramics, books, gold and silver plate, arms and armour, jewellery and other works of art. The collection includes the Crown Jewels which are housed in one of the largest vaults in the world, inside the Jewel House at the Tower of London. Part of this jewel collection includes The Imperial State Crown, St. Edwards Crown, The India Crown, as well as the orb and sceptre. The Royal Collection is physically dispersed between thirteen Royal residences and former residences across Britain. Although the collection belongs to the sovereign, it is not the personal property of Elizabeth II as a private individual. Instead the collection is held in trust by the Queen for her successors and the nation in whole. The Treasury says these assets are “vested in the sovereign and cannot be alienated”. Income is generated by the collection from public admissions to Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and The Queen’s Gallery, as well as other sources. This income is received by the Royal Collection Trust,
    established in 1993 by Her Majesty, The Queen, under the chairmanship of The Prince of Wales to manage the Royal Collection. The collection’s management oversee the management of the charity, and not the Queen.

  • Occupied Royal Palaces– Royal residences such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are held in trust by the sovereign, to which the sovereign is expected to use the Sovereign Support Grant to maintain these palaces. In May 2009 the Queen requested an extra £4 million annually from the government, through the Civil List, to carry out a backlog of repairs to Buckingham Palace. Without a rise in funding to the Civil List, successive governments allowed the backlog of repairs to these historic buildings to become out of control. With funds from the Crown Estate being turned over to the Treasury in exchange for the costs of the Sovereign to be met, this funding equation, based on Crown revenue was becoming increasing unfair. The cost of restoration for Buckingham Palace alone was was originally estimated to be £50 million, but the Reserve Fund could not even begin to tackle such repairs as it was at an historic low of £1m. Later it was found through survey that the total cost of repairs to the Palace, and not just patch-work repair, would cost a whopping £360m The monarch is also responsible for using the Sovereign Grant to pay the wages of 431 of the approximately 1,200 Royal Household staff,amounting to £18.2 million in 2014–15.