Queen Elizabeth II: A look at the assets she owned during her 70-year reign

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Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, had a net worth of US$442.92 million (£340 million) with her fortune and assets set to be passed down to her son King Charles III, according to Business Insider.

An article published last week by Business Insider, said her net worth, according to a 2016 estimate by The Sunday Times “is vastly more than any other member of the Royal Family, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have a shared fortune of $30 million.”

However, the assets the queen owned technically belong to the “Royal Firm,” also known as “Monarchy PLC,” and the sovereign doesn’t have the right to sell any of them, including the palaces, to make a profit, as pointed out by the Business Insider.

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According to Forbes, the Crown, through the “Firm,” holds nearly $28 billion in assets. These assets include the following: the Crown estate, worth $19.5 billion; Buckingham Palace, worth an estimated $4.9 billion; the Duchy of Cornwall, valued at $1.3 billion; the Duchy of Lancaster, worth $748 million; Kensington Palace, estimated to be worth of $630 million; and the Crown Estate of Scotland, worth $592 million (all in U.S. dollars).

Here’s a breakdown of the queen’s assets during her 70 years of reign that also acted as a source of income for her and the Royal household.

The Crown Estate

King Charles III is now the owner of the Crown Estate, which is a corporation that manages a collection of properties and lands that belong to the sovereign, according to the U.K. government website.

“The business generates valuable revenue for the government and over the last 10 years has contributed £2.6 billion,” the government states.

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However, the King is not involved in the estate’s management, according to The Crown Estate website.

“It is not the private property of the monarch — it cannot be sold by the monarch, nor do revenues from it belong to the monarch,” it says. Rather, the ability to sell and the revenues belong to the Crown Estate.

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The Crown Estate portfolio “has a value of over £7.3 billion, from beef farms in the north of Scotland to Portland stone mining in Dorset,” the Royal Family’s website says.

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When it comes to official duties, like public outings and events, the Royal Family is funded by what is known as the Sovereign Grant.

The Sovereign Grant is supported by the government and covers costs of royal travel, communications and information, and the maintenance of all royal palaces, according to the website.

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A percentage of the profits from the Crown Estate revenue go into the Sovereign Grant.

Privy Purse and Duchy of Lancaster

The royals have private sources of income outside of the publicly funded Sovereign Grant. The Duchy of Lancaster is one such source, which belongs to the sovereign.

The Duchy of Lancaster contributes to the queen’s — now the King’s — private income and is used to pay for costs that the Sovereign Grant does not cover, including both official and private spending by the monarch.

According to the Royal Family website, the “Privy Purse” “is a historical term used to describe income from the Duchy of Lancaster.”

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The Duchy of Lancaster is a portfolio of land, property, and assets that belong to the reigning sovereign as Duke of Lancaster since 1399, according to the Duchy of Lancaster website.

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It is not to be confused with the Duchy of Cornwall, which provides an income for the heir to the throne, the Prince of Wales — now William.

“While the two Duchies have similarities, the management and control of the Duchy of Cornwall is entirely separate to that of the Duchy of Lancaster,” the duchy’s website states.

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According to Business Insider, “the Lancaster estate generated revenue of £24 million (about US$28 million) last year, its financial records state, and the King is now entitled to its income.”

“It had assets worth more than £650 million ($754 million) at the end of March this year, the duchy’s website states. A law passed in 1702 forbids the monarch from selling any of the assets,” the report added.

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In 1993, the queen chose to pay income and capital gains tax on the estates, and according to Business Insider, “Charles may decide to follow suit.”

Queen's personal wealth

Other than the Queen’s Privy Purse, Elizabeth II also owned the Balmoral and Sandringham Estates, which were passed down to her from her father.

What the queen didn’t own, however, are the official royal residences, most of the art in the Royal Collection, and the Crown Jewels, the Royal Family website points out. These expensive items cannot be sold and are to be passed down to her successor.

The Royal Family website outlines that the sources of funding, be it public or private, are “used entirely to support The Queen’s work (now King’s) as Head of State.”

“This means that the money goes towards a number of resources that enable Her (His) Majesty to carry out her official duties,” it added.

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These include royal travel for official engagements in the U.K. and overseas; the maintenance of royal residencies, and salaries for employees of the Royal Household on top of what’s provided by the sovereign grant.

Charles as King will now inherit the assets of his mother and will receive them tax-free, but it’s not known what other royal members will inherit from the queen.

If her other children and family do inherit anything, they’ll be subject to the U.K.’s 40 per cent inheritance tax, according to Willful, a Canadian company that provides online estate planning service.

“The rest of the contents of her will are likely to remain a secret — especially after Prince Philip passed away in 2021 and his will was sealed for 90 years,” said the company told Global News in an email.

According to Stewarts, a U.K. law firm, “royal wills have a long history of privacy, dating back to 1822.”

“In 1910, the court considered the position of members of the wider royal family, ruling that the will of Prince Francis of Teck, a brother of Queen Mary (consort of King George V), be ‘sealed’ and its contents kept private from the general public,” the firm said in a blog.

“Since then, this practice has become the norm for senior members of the royal family, and more than 30 wills have been similarly sealed,” the firm added.

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-With files from The Associated Press and Global News’s Laura Hensley.

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