In Depth

How much money does the Royal Family have?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle want to ‘become financially independent’ after breaking away from the monarchy

News that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are to step down as “senior” royals has reportedly left the Queen “disappointed” and “hurt” - but the family will also be busy working out where that leaves them financially.

According to a post on the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s official website, the couple’s lifestyle is currently funded mainly “from income allocated by HRH The Prince of Wales, generated through the Duchy of Cornwall” - part of the royal estate of land, agriculture, property and commercial interests.

The website says that 5% of their income also comes from the Sovereign Grant, public cash paid to Royals with official duties. But just how much money does the Royal Family have - and what are the financial implications of Harry and Meghan’s plan to withdraw from royal life and “work to become financially independent”?

How much money does the family have?

Forbes magazine reports the Queen has an estimated personal net worth of about £380m ($500m).

But that is nothing compared to the net worth of the Royal Family and Crown Estate combined -with business consultancy Brand Finance valuing the Royal Family at £67.5bn in 2017.

The monarchy’s tangible assets - which include the Crown Estate, the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, and the Royal Collection, including the Crown Jewels – account for £25.5bn of that total.

However, most of the family’s value is tied to the Royals’ positions and is not personal wealth. As such, the Queen is not ranked among the world’s billionaires.

What is the Sovereign Grant?

According to the website, the Sovereign Grant “sets the single grant supporting the monarch’s official business, enabling the Queen to discharge her duties as head of state”.

This cash covers central central staffing costs and expenses from the monarch’s official households, including official receptions, investitures and garden parties.

The grant also meets the cost of maintenance of the Royal Palaces in England, and of travel and royal engagements and visits.

The annual payout amounts to 25% of the revenue that the Queen surrendered from the Crown Estate to the government two years before. In 2017-18, the Queen surrendered £329.4m, so the Sovereign Grant for 2019-20 was £82.4m.

Although the Duke and Duchess of Sussex say the Sovereign Grant accounts for just 5% of their current income, it also covers additional expenses. Last year, the grant met the £2.4m cost of renovating the couple’s Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, which is owned by the Queen.

When it comes to the cash handed over by the public, the Royal Family now cost each UK taxpayer the equivalent of 69p per head per year, according to Vanity Fair

In terms of returns, The Sun reports that the Royals generates an estimated £1.8bn year in tourism revenues for Britain. 

Will Harry and Meghan become independent?

The desire to go it alone financially is said to have been central to Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back from their role as senior royals.

According to their official website, “under the current structure and financing arrangements, they are prohibited from earning any income in any form”, but hope to have “the future financial autonomy to work externally”.

The couple are keen to point out the “public funding has never been used, nor would it ever be used for private expenditure by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex” - suggesting that they do not consider the 95% of their income that comes via Prince Charles’ Royal Estate earnings as being public money.

However, royal aides have cast doubt on their claim that the percentage of their income covered by the Sovereign Grant is only 5%, suggesting that the true amount is is “significantly higher”, reports The Times

The newspaper says palace officials have raised concerns about the couple’s grasp of finances, amid warnings that the Sussexes could lose all their income - and their home - if a deal can’t be reached over their future ties to the monarchy.

If Harry and Meghan are to become independent, they will lose the Sovereign Grant. They might also lose all or some of the income they receive from Prince Charles. 

And the couple could have to pay rent to continue living at Frogmore Cottage, the upkeep of which is paid for by the Sovereign Grant.


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