By succeeding Queen Elizabeth II, Charles inherited the title of king, but also a large part of his mother’s personal fortune, estimated at 370 million pounds, including castles and jewelry.
With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, her son Charles III therefore automatically acceded to the throne and now has a very comfortable inheritance. Indeed, according to Sunday Times, the Queen had amassed a personal fortune estimated at 370 million pounds, thanks in part to real estate and jewellery. However, the royal family does not have all of this money, since part is managed by the British government.
The private part of Elizabeth II’s fortune is mainly made up of real estate. Thus, the queen owned the castle of Balmoral, Scotland, where she ended her days. It is valued at 100 million pounds. She was also the owner of Sandringham Castle in Norfolk, estimated at £50 million, which she had inherited from her father. This castle is surrounded by an area of nearly 8,000 hectares made up of farms, forests and farms. According David McClure, author of the book “The Queen’s True worth”, which attempts to detail the possessions of Elizabeth II, these residences are very expensive. In addition to real estate, the queen, who loved horses, had a personal stable which would have brought her more than 7 million pounds during her reign, according to the equestrian site myracing.com, quoted by AFP.
Also, the Queen owned numerous jewels, bequeathed by Queen Mary and the Queen Mother, a portfolio of shares and collections of works of art, made up of 7,000 paintings and nearly 50,000 watercolors, drawings or prints. There are, among other things, paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer and a set of 600 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. Inherited from her grandfather, the sovereign had a collection of stamps that would be worth 100 million pounds.
Residences which, despite these impressive figures, are in reality very expensive according to the book “The Queen’s True worth” by David McClure, which attempted to detail in 2020 the actual possessions of the queen. Elizabeth II, whose passion for horses was known, also had a personal stable having brought her over the years more than 7 million pounds according to the equestrian site myracing.com, quoted by AFP.
Another heritage can, only in part, be added to this private heritage of the sovereign, whether it is Elizabeth II or her son Charles III: “The crown estate”, is the gigantic fortune of the British Crown this time, including a “colossal park of land, real estate, wind farm licenses” indicates AFP. The revenue from this heritage is paid into the Treasury, but 15% directly benefits the royal family through the “sovereign grant”, an annual allowance intended to cover “expenses related to official activities representing the Queen or members of his family”, in particular the 500 employees placed at their service. This reached 86 million pounds, or 99 million euros, for 2021-2022. But this sum includes an exceptional extension granted for ten years for the renovation of Buckingham Palace (34 million pounds for 2021-2022).
Other subsidies are planned for the crown and for the royal family in general, which should now directly benefit Charles III. The “privy purse” thus designates a share of the revenue drawn from the assets of the Duchy of Lancaster. An area comprising “hundreds of real estate, high-end commercial properties, and thousands of hectares of agricultural land”, writes AFP again. Assets that have been the property of royalty since the Middle Ages. Estimated at 650 million pounds, the Duchy of Lancaster would have offered an income of around 24 million pounds to Queen Elizabeth during the last fiscal year. A sum that she could, after taxes, redistribute as she pleased to other members of her family or use to maintain and restore her castles of Balmoral and Sandringham.
Valued at some 3 billion pounds, the famous Crown Jewels, for their part, symbolically belong to the Queen but are automatically passed on to the next monarch.
Even if we will surely not know the decisions taken by the queen on her inheritance, the duchy of Lancaster returns by right to her successor, therefore to Charles III. Furthermore, it can be assumed that the majority of the Queen’s private estate will also go to Charles. However, his three other children, Anne, Edward and Andrew, should also receive part of this inheritance.
More surprisingly, with his accession to the throne, Charles will own all the swans of the kingdom, dolphins and whales that live off the coast of the United Kingdom, according to laws that date back to the Middle Ages. David Barber, who worked for Queen Elizabeth II as a swan scorer for 30 years, tells Reuters: “Not all swans belong to the king. But if he wishes to claim them, he can, under the royal prerogative.”
Note that Charles III, on becoming king, cedes his Duchy of Cornwall to William, who becomes the new Prince of Wales. This area would weigh more than a billion pounds in various real estate. For example, the Isles of Scilly, located in the Celtic Sea, are part of this duchy, as is the Oval cricket stadium, a farm specializing in organic farming and the forest of Dartmoor. According to the Duchy’s official website, William’s earnings are “used to fund public, private and charitable activities”.
The British royal family has a privilege which exempts them from paying royalties succession. Similarly, the content of inheritances is not made public. This tax exemption comes from Queen Elizabeth II, in 1993. Indeed, in the early 90s, a fire broke out in Windsor Castle. Following a controversy over who was going to pay for the renovations, the Queen agreed to be taxed on income, which is not normally the case for the royal family. This allowed him to negotiate a tax shelter in 1993, which Charles benefits from today.
The assets of the Crown Estate are estimated at €17.9 billion, with 25% of the profits going to the Royal Family under the Sovereign Grant. Also, these goods cannot be sold by the king and are ceded to the government in exchange for a subsidy. As such, the government of John Major, Prime Minister between 1990 and 1997, had concluded that it would be “inappropriate for inheritance tax to be paid for these assets.” Regarding the Queen’s private heritage, it benefits from the exemption in order to preserve “a certain degree of financial independence vis-à-vis the government in place”, he had indicated.
However, this exemption only benefits Charles III, the other children of the queen will have to free themselves from this right of succession. The new king has also indicated that he will pay his income taxes, even if nothing obliges him to do so.