Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Does it pay to be royal?

In honor of this writer’s recent honeymoon across the Pond to Great Britain and the visit of two British royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (AKA William and Kate), to the USA, I thought we’d take a gander at an area of interest to me – how do royals make their money? 

Between my research and a recent Yahoo News article, I’ve compiled the following information, specifically regarding the Queen, the Prince of Wales and his two sons. First, in regard to Princes William and Harry, when their mother “Princess Diana passed away she left a trust for both her sons amounting to £10 millon, or about $15.6 million each. 
“The brothers each received their share on their 30th birthday but were allowed to live off of the investment income (which Forbes estimates at $450,000 per year) until then. On top of the lump sum of cash they received a cache of dresses, documents (like original handwritten lyrics to Elton John’s Candle in the Wind) and jewels that the Princess had owned.
London at night across from Parliament and Big Ben
“The Duchy of Cornwall - A great amount of the couple’s money comes from William’s father, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. He generally pays for their staff and the official costs of being a royal. Last year, Prince Charles made £19.5 million, or over $30 million, from his portfolio of properties referred to as ‘The Duchy of Cornwall.’ 

“The Duchy of Cornwall was acquired by Edward III in 1337 and is always handed down to the eldest son of the reigning British monarch. The Duchy comes with both an investment portfolio and about 205 square miles of land and properties. The current value of the Duchy is £763 million, or about $1.2 billion. 

“The Prince cannot do whatever he wishes with the Duchy - it is managed and run on his behalf, but he receives all net profit from it. Though the Duchy is not taxed, Prince Charles voluntarily paid income tax on his profits. While it’s unclear exactly how much of the Duchy’s profits are handed to Will and Kate - it’s at least enough to keep a staff of 12 aides and an active travel schedule.

Contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of Will and Kate’s money is not coming from the British people - but some of it is. The Queen is granted £37.9 million, or just under $60 million, each year by Parliament to maintain and perform the duties of her role. With that money the Queen funded a $5.3 million renovation of Kensington Palace’s Apartment 1A, where Will and Kate reside. She also gifted the couple Anmer Hall, a mansion in Norfolk, England which will also undergo a pricey renovation. 

Buckingham Palace in London
Prince William is the first royal in the line of succession to ever hold a civilian contract - in August of 2014, the 32-year old joined the East Anglian Air Ambulance as a helicopter pilot. The job services ill or hurt citizens stuck in remote parts of England. His current salary is £40,000 pounds before taxes, or about $62,000 a year. Most of his earnings, however, will go to an undisclosed charity.”

Further investigation into royal monies took me to the official website of the British monarchy, which brought up that the Queen has three sources of funding - the Sovereign Grant, the Privy Purse and her personal wealth and income.

“On April 1, 2012, the arrangements for the funding of The Queen’s Official Duties changed. The new system of funding, referred to as the ‘Sovereign Grant’, replaces the Civil List and the three Grants-in-Aid (for Royal Travel, Communications and Information, and the Maintenance of the Royal Palaces) with a single, consolidated annual grant. The Sovereign Grant is designed to be a more permanent arrangement than the old Civil List system, which was reign-specific. Funding for the Sovereign Grant comes from a percentage of the profits of the Crown Estate revenue (initially set at 15%). 

“Privy Purse and the Duchy of Lancaster is a historical term used to describe income from the Duchy of Lancaster, which is used to meet both official and private expenditure by The Queen. The Duchy of Lancaster is a portfolio of land, property and assets held in trust for the Sovereign in his/her role as Sovereign. It is administered separately from the Crown Estates. Its main purpose is to provide an independent source of income, and is used mainly to pay for official expenditure not met by the Civil List (primarily to meet expenses incurred by other members of the Royal Family).

This is the closest I got to any British royalty while in the UK :)
“The Queen’s personal income, derived from her personal investment portfolio and private estates, is used to meet her private expenses. The Queen owns the Balmoral and Sandringham Estates, which were both inherited from her father. Estimates of The Queen’s wealth often mistakenly include items which are held by her as Sovereign on behalf of the nation and are not her private property. These include the official Royal residences, the majority of art treasures from the Royal Collection and the Crown Jewels. The Queen cannot sell these – they must pass to her successor as Sovereign.

“And the Queen pays taxes as does the Prince of Wales, but it is done voluntarily. In 1992, The Queen volunteered to pay income tax and capital gains tax, and since 1993 her personal income has been taxable as for any other taxpayer. The Queen has always been subject to Value Added Tax and pays local rates. 

“Up until March 31, 2012, the Civil List was the amount of money provided by the Government to meet the official expenses of The Queen’s Household, so that The Queen could carry out her role as Head of State and Head of the Commonwealth. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were - and remain still - the only members of the Royal Family to receive an annual parliamentary allowance.

“In 1760, George III reached an agreement with the Government over the Crown Estate. The Crown Lands would be managed on behalf of the Government and the surplus revenue would go to the Treasury. In return, the King would receive a fixed annual payment, which until 31 March 2012 was called the Civil List. About 70 per cent of the Civil List expenditure went on staff salaries. It also contributed towards meeting the costs of official functions such as garden parties, receptions and official entertainment during State Visits. The Queen entertains almost 50,000 people each year. 

“Grant-in-Aid - Each year the Royal Family carries out almost 3,000 official engagements around the United Kingdom and overseas. Up until March 31, 2012, the Royal Household received annual funding to meet the costs of official travel through the Department for Transport.”

Were you curious about royal finances like me? Do you have any other pressing questions regarding royals? Thanks for reading!

Morgan Tarpley is an award-winning newspaper reporter and photographer in Louisiana. She is also a historical novelist currently seeking representation. Besides writing and traveling to over a dozen countries, her interests include acting in her local theater, photography, and singing. She resides in Louisiana with her husband of two months. :)

For more information about Morgan, visit her website ( and blog ( You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Goodreads.


  1. Sounds complicated, but like a modern corporation rather than the old fashioned off-with-their-heads kind of royalty. So did this all start with th Magna Carta?

    1. Exactly! That's why it so fascinated me, LeAnne! :) Thanks for weighing in!

      As mentioned above, the current system of monarchy finances (Civil List) actually was instated in 1760 until 2012 when the improved system replaced it. King George III was the one who started it. As far as I know before hand, the Magna Carta definitely started opening wide the issues of monarchs, taxes and how they used their money.

      The current system in particular though didn't come into play until the 18th century. Though an interesting thing to note is that the Magna Carta will officially turn 800 years old this June though. Wow!

      If anyone else has anything to add to LeAnne's question please do!

  2. Morgan, interesting post! I loved your photos of London :)

  3. What a fun post, Morgan. I love the behind the scenes peek!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Lisa! Thank you! :)

  4. Interesting, Morgan! I'm sure you had a great trip!

    1. It was a great trip, Donna! Unforgettable! Thanks for commenting! Hope you are doing very well! :)

  5. Thanks, Morgan. Those huge amounts of money just blow my mind!