- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are taking a “step back” from their positions as members of the royal family and moving toward becoming “financially independent,” the couple announced in an Instagram post on Wednesday
- The British royal family is collectively worth an estimated $US88 billion when looking at the crown’s concrete assets in combination with the value of the family brand, Forbes reported in 2017.
- Queen Elizabeth II had an estimated personal net worth of $US530 million as of 2016.
- Most of the British monarchy’s wealth comes from inherited lands and investments, but British taxpayers also support the royal family through a “sovereign grant” issued by the treasury.
- In 2019, the sovereign grant amounted to $US104 million.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are taking a “step back” as members of the British royal family, the couple announced in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
Going forward, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will split their time between the UK and North America, and they plan to start a “new charitable entity,” according to the post. They also said they will work to become “financially independent.”
Markle and Prince Harry have an estimated combined personal fortune of $US30 million, but they could be giving up their claim to a hefty sum of centuries-old money in pursuing financial independence.
Forbes estimated in 2017 that the British royal family is worth $US88 billion when looking at the crown’s concrete assets in combination with the value of the family brand. Queen Elizabeth II had an estimated personal net worth of $US530 million as of 2016.
Most of the British monarchy’s wealth comes from inherited lands and investments, but British taxpayers also support the royal family through a “sovereign grant” issued by the treasury. In 2019, the grant total amounted to $US104 million.
Here’s how much the British royal family is worth now – and how they acquired their millions.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are stepping back from royal duties and moving toward becoming “financially independent,” the couple announced in an Instagram post.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they plan to be financially independent and will continue to “fully support Her Majesty The Queen” in this new phase.
The couple also said they will split their time between the UK and North America going forward, and they plan to start a “new charitable entity.”
Together, the Duke and Duchess have an estimated $US30 million personal fortune that derives from Prince Harry’s inheritance from Princess Diana, his annual allowance from Prince Charles, and Markle’s income from starring in the USA Network drama “Suits,” as well as endorsement deals and sponsorships, Business Insider’s Tanza Loudenback reported.
In becoming financially independent, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could be cutting themselves off from a massive sum of centuries-old money. The British royal family is worth an estimated $US88 billion, according to Forbes.
A report by business consultancy firm Brand Finance calculates the worth of the British Monarchy each year by adding up the crown’s concrete assets as well as the family brand’s “value impact” and other less tangible contributions.
The $US88 billion estimate does not include the personal finances of the Queen and her relatives as private citizens.
Forbes also reports that the British monarchy “contributes nearly £1.8 billion ($US2.4 billion) to the UK economy” annually, including £550 million ($US720 million) in tourism.
British taxpayers support the monarchy in the form of a lump sum issued to the queen each year by the treasury that’s known as the sovereign grant. In 2019, it amounted to $US104 million.
The sovereign grant is meant to cover the expenses Queen Elizabeth II racks up in her official duties as monarch, including travel, entertaining, and property maintenance,according to The Mirror.
In 2019, the amount of the grant was £49.3 million ($US63 million), according to Fortune. Combined with an additional grant of £32.9 million ($US42 million) given to put toward the costs of restoring Buckingham Palace, the total came to £82.2 million ($US104 million).
The sovereign grant typically comes out to 15% of the annual profit of the Crown Estates, which owns most of Regent Street as well as thousands of acres of land, but in 2017 it jumped from 15% to 25% in order to pay for Buckingham Palace renovations.
The amount granted to the monarch cannot decrease from the previous year, even if the Crown Estate fares poorly. The National Audit Office has free reign to audit the grant.
The arrangement hasn’t always been without snarls. The grant came under review in 2015, essentially because the queen was making too much money.
Queen Elizabeth II also has her own personal fortune — and she paid income tax for the first time after a fire devastated her favourite castle in 1992.
Forbes estimated in 2016 that Queen Elizabeth has an estimated private wealth of $US530 million. And, according to the law of the land, she doesn’t have to pay any taxes on it.
“The sovereign is not legally liable for income, capital-gains or inheritance tax,” according to the Economist.
That expectation changed after one of the queen’s favourite residences, Windsor Castle, was devastated in a 1992 fire,according to the Daily Mail.
The fire sparked controversy over who would foot the bill for the damages. Ultimately, Queen Elizabeth began paying taxes on her income. According to the BBC, she was the first monarch to pay taxes since the 1930s.
The queen also makes “voluntary payments to the UK tax authority HM Revenue and Customs” in lieu of capital gains tax and inheritance tax, Business Insider previously reported.
The sovereign grant itself is tax-exempt.
The Crown — not Queen Elizabeth herself — holds many luxurious residences and priceless objects in trust.
The queen herself doesn’t personally own national treasures like the Crown Jewels or the Tower of London.
Such national treasures are part of the royal collection, which the monarch holds in trust for the nation. The collection is made up of thousands of paintings, tapestries, pieces of furniture, photographs, and other objects, spread out between numerous royal residences. Certain palaces, like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, are also held in trust.
Queen Elizabeth II does personally own certain items in the collection, including an immense royal stamp collection her father King George V passed down to her. She also privately owns the $US65 million country house, Sandringham House, and the $US140 million Scottish estate Balmoral Castle, according to Fortune.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles derive income from two duchies with medieval roots — which were both caught up in the Paradise Papers leak.
Queen Elizabeth and her son and heir Prince Charles were caught up in a financial firestorm when their names appeared in the Paradise Papers.
The Duchy of Lancaster – a private estate initially established for John of Gaunt, the younger son of King Edward III – has been handed down from monarch to monarch since 1399. Funds from the duchy pour into the Crown’s Privy Purse – or private income.
The Washington Post reported that $US12 million of the queen’s private money from this duchy was invested offshore, in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
Prince Charles of Wales also came under fire as a result of the news.
The 680-year-old Duchy of Cornwall is inherited by the eldest son of the reigning monarch. Back in 2007, the duchy bought $US113,500 of shares in Sustainable Forestry Management Ltd. The Bermuda-based company stood to benefit from a change in climate change policy.
The BBC reported Prince Charles advocated for the change “… and his estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, tripled its investment in Sustainable Forestry in the space of a year.”
Spokespeople from both duchies denied wrongdoing and pointed to the fact that both royals voluntarily pay taxes on their incomes.
But the revelations still stirred controversy. Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Telegraph, “Anyone that is putting money into tax havens in order to avoid taxation in Britain, and obviously investigations have to take place, should do two things – not just apologise for it but also recognise what it does to our society.”
The Crown hasn’t always been under such scrutiny in regards to its finances, amassing enormous wealth over the centuries, largely through land acquisitions and conquest.
The Crown’s wealth has historically flowed from inherited properties acquired through centuries of conquest, forfeiture, and purchases.
The practice of establishing Crown lands – or land belonging to the monarch – dates all the way back to the Norman conquest. Different rulers have gained and lost land over the years, as the cost of governance grew over time.
When King George III took the throne in 1760, the way royal finances were managed underwent a major change. According to the royal family’s official website, Parliament began to pay for the entirety of the “Civil List” – government expenditures and royal household costs traditionally handled by the monarch. In exchange, Parliament would receive the “hereditary revenues” of the king’s Crown Estate.
While the Crown Estate is “owned by the monarch for the duration of their reign,” it is not their private property and “cannot be sold by the monarch, nor do revenues from it belong to the monarch,” according to the Crown Estate’s website.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.