King George 6, father of the late Queen Elizabeth II, baptized the monarchy “the firm” (The Firm). He knew what he was talking about. The monarchy owns 500,000 hectares, part of the English coast and its underwater platform, exclusive areas in central London and some 240 buildings in the capital, shopping centers in Leeds, Newcastle, Milton Keynes and other towns and cities. . To this rich heritage must be added financial investments, shares, works of art, collections, jewels and other treasures such as the famous crown of Elizabeth II, which has 2868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, four rubies, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls, part of which comes from the colonization of India.
In hard cash, the equity value of the “company” exceeds 20 billion pounds. Their balance sheets in the last 10 years reflect what has been happening in the world of large corporations: an ostensible increase in their profits in the midst of growing global inequality. In this decade, its three most important financial institutions – the Crown Estate and the dukedoms of Lancaster and Cornwell – have doubled in value from around £9bn in 2012 to around £18bn today.
The Crown Estate
The Crown Estate’s real estate portfolio, which in part predates the Norman conquest of 1065, forms the bulk of this wealth: some £16.5bn. Half are properties in the capital: the monarchy is rentier. One feature of the workings of the parliamentary monarchy, however, is that the Crown estate is a “right of the Crown”, but not property in the usual sense of the term: the monarchy cannot sell any such property, nor does it directly receive all of it. the economic benefits they produce.
The profits from the Crown Estate go to the Treasury department which gives the monarchy a percentage known as the Sovereign Grant. With these funds the monarchy has to finance its official trips, the maintenance of the properties and other costs. Until 2017, 15% of the profits of the Crown Estate went to the coffers of the monarchy. That year they increased to 25% to finance the renovation of Buckingham Palace. In the fiscal period 2021-2022 the monarchy received more than 86 million pounds from the Sovereign Grant.
On duchies, taxes and tax havens
The monarchy has properties that completely belong to it, such as the 20,000 hectares of Sandringham in Norfolk and the 50,000 around Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where the queen died on September 8. The profits that he obtains from the Duchy of Lancaster and Cornwall go directly to the monarch who can spend or invest it as he wishes, that is, he is not destined to finance the expense of the function that Royalty fulfills.
The law that governs the “Sovereign Grant” is from 2011 and establishes that the “Monarch is exempt from paying income tax, which governs investment earnings and inheritance.” Queen Elizabeth II renounced this right and voluntarily paid these taxes since 1992. The expectation is that Charles III will follow her example just as he did while his title was Prince of Wales.
This apparent tax behavior has not been without scandal. The Paradise Papers revealed that the Duchy of Lancaster had invested some £10m in notorious tax havens such as the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
The Duchy has castles all over the country. Added to this are crown assets ranging from bridges to underwater pipelines and fiber optic cables. This year the dukedom made a profit of £24 million, tripling the profit it made in 2000.
As for the inheritance that the royal family receives is largely a mystery. A court ruling in 1820 determined that a monarch’s will does not have to be disclosed, so it may never be known how much of the queen’s personal fortune, estimated at more than 370 million pounds, will fall to Charles III. , according to the “Sunday Times Rich List”.
The rest of the company
At 40, Prince William has not been badly stopped. With the death of the queen he became Prince of Wales and will also control the Duchy of Cornwall, all valued at more than a billion pounds. 90% of this money is in real estate that includes 130 thousand hectares that go from Cornwall to Kent (southwest and southeast of England), in Wales, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. In Devon he has 260 farms and some 2,640 rentals, plus commercial properties in London and Milton Keynes.
By comparison, the rest of the family are paupers. Princess Anne, sister of the King, has about 50 million pounds, the evicted Prince Andrew about five million, Prince Edward and Sofia, about 10 million, Prince Harry and Meghan about 20 million, which largely come from the inheritance of his mother, Lady Diana. In all cases, less visible assets such as shares, stocks and other wealth in the real estate sector should be added to this.
In any case, with a fortune of these dimensions, still restricted by the operation established by a constitutional monarchy, the company has a solid position on which to sustain itself and the royalty: 20 billion pounds does not disappear overnight .