Monarchy: Royal Wealth: Of swans, stamps and billions

In fact, there are thousands of subjects who probably have no idea about their king's coronation on May 6th.

Monarchy: Royal Wealth: Of swans, stamps and billions

In fact, there are thousands of subjects who probably have no idea about their king's coronation on May 6th. By law, Charles III. any dolphin, whale, sturgeon or even unmarked swan in UK waters. What sounds a bit like an anachronistic holdover actually serves as a symbol. Because the property of the British monarch - on paper - can hardly be measured. The royal family's nickname "The Firm" is fitting given their numerous holdings and holdings.

Palace and government don't talk about wealth. The royal wealth was "not transparent for outsiders or devilishly complicated", criticized the newspaper "Sunday Times" shortly after Charles took office. Research by the newspaper "Guardian" recently caused a stir. Result: Charles III. owns around 1.8 billion pounds (2.05 billion euros). "A large part of the King's personal fortune stems from the public role played by him and his family as working royals," the paper wrote. The palace called the sum a "highly creative mix of speculation, assumptions and inaccuracies," but gave no details.

Stocks, jewels, masterpieces

It is well known that wealth is based on several pillars. Private property includes valuable horses and historic vehicles as well as the world's largest collection of stamps and masterpieces. Then there are shares. A huge part of the fortune consists of jewels, which were mainly collected by Charles' great-grandmother Queen Mary and which the king inherited from his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

Although the most famous residences such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle do not belong to Charles himself, there are two other well-known estates with large estates: Balmoral in Scotland, where the Queen died on September 8, 2022, and Sandringham in eastern England.

The biggest cash cow, however, is the Duchy of Lancaster, which has been the personal property of the monarch for centuries, yielding around £20 million a year. The vast real estate and land holdings include some of the best known addresses in London as well as properties in England and Wales. It was repeatedly demanded that the Duchy should fall to the state. But the only thing that was agreed was that the monarch should not be allowed to sell the country. The accounts last reported £653 million.

No inheritance tax

Charles also benefits from the fact that he is not subject to inheritance tax. His mother had once agreed to a voluntary payment. However, a 2013 agreement stipulates that the monarch does not have to pay royalties on assets held by the Queen. These include the official residences, the royal archives as well as the collection of paintings and similar treasures.

The Sunday Times newspaper estimated the total wealth of the royals in September 2022 at £20 billion and noted, half amazed, half appreciative, that this was more than the stock market value of leading retailer Tesco. The "Times" also includes the Crown Estate - more on that later - and the Duchy of Cornwall. This duchy traditionally belongs to the heir to the throne, i.e. Prince William. With the accession of Charles III. The Sunday Times suspects that the 40-year-old has become a billionaire in one fell swoop. Because the Duchy also owns numerous properties, many of them in London such as The Oval cricket stadium.

The royal house as a tourist magnet

In view of the wealth of the royals and increasing poverty in the country as a result of high inflation, demands are now being made again that the king should pay for his coronation himself. The conservative government blocks criticism. The "wonderful moment in our history" should not be spoiled by "grumpy miscreants", said Oliver Dowden, responsible for royal matters in the cabinet as "Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster". The king deserved a "proper coronation". Proponents consistently point to the monarchy's value as the "soft power" that draws millions of tourists to the country.

For the coronation as well as for the maintenance of the royals and the preservation of their estates, Charles does not have to burden his fortune. For this, the king receives money from the public purse. The amount is calculated based on the income of the property manager Crown Estate.

The Sovereign Grant and Inflation

The deal goes like this: In return for the fact that the royal family ceded the crown estate to the state in the 18th century, it has since received an annual payment - the so-called Sovereign Grant. The share is currently 25 percent, which was recently £86.3 million. A clause also states that the sum must not decrease. Even if the Crown Estate's profit falls in the current financial year, the royals will again receive £86.3m. However, inflation is not sparing royalty either: compared to 2021, the real value of the Sovereign Grant has fallen by £12.3m.

In the future, the crown could have significantly more money at its disposal. The Crown Estate does not include more than 240 buildings in London and shopping centers in other cities and large estates, but also the seabed in the British twelve-mile zone. Thanks to a deal in which German companies also secured land for the construction of offshore wind farms for option fees, Great Britain can expect income of one billion pounds. The crown would therefore receive 250 million. However, Charles immediately ruled out an increase in the Sovereign Grant.