Windsor Wealth: How Rich Is The British Royal Family? [Gallery]

by Avinash Saxena

Britain’s Royal family is just days away from throwing its most memorable wedding in 30 years.

Prince William and his longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton will marry at 11 a.m. on April 29 at Westminster Abbey.  Two choirs, one orchestra and two fanfare teams will perform the music at the service, which will be followed by a procession through London.

The wedding party will arrive at Buckingham Palace, the site of the  reception to be hosted by his grandmother, The Queen. Guests are expected to include Prince Albert of Monaco and his fiancé, South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock and professional soccer player David Beckham and his wife Victoria.

The bride’s parents, the Middletons, will make a “private contribution,” but the Royal Family will pay for nearly all of the celebration. The festivities are expected to cost a reported $30 million; a huge sum, to be sure, but likely less than half the estimated cost, adjusted for inflation, of  Princess Diana’s and Prince Charles’ 1981 wedding, also paid for by the Royal Family. (The Government and other bodies will pay for costs that are consequential to the wedding like extra security.)

These monied monarchs can well afford it. Queen Elizabeth, 85, has an estimated personal net worth of $500 million that comes from property holdings including Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, stud farms, a fruit farm and marine land throughout the U.K.; extensive art and fine jewelry; and one of the world’s largest stamp collections built by her grandfather.

Not included are those assets belonging to the Crown Estate, which she gets to enjoy as Queen, such as $10 billion worth of real estate, Buckingham Palace (estimated to be worth another $5 billion), the Royal Art collection, and unmarked swans on stretches of the Thames.  The Crown has claimed ownership of these birds since the 12th century when swan meat was considered a delicacy; they are no longer eaten. The Queen also receives an annual government stipend of $12.9 million.

Because most of her wealth is tied to her position and not hers personally – in otherwords, she could never sell the royal assets – she is not included among the World’s Billionaires but did appear among theWorld’s Richest Royals in our most recent rankings.

As heir to the throne, Prince Charles, 62, got $28 million stipend last year from Duchy of Cornwall Estate. He spends well over half of aftertax income on official duties and charitable activities. Paid more than $10 million last year on salaries of 150 staffers.

Princess Diana reportedly left both Prince William, 28, and Prince Harry, 26, $10 million after taxes. They apparently started receiving annual dividends at age 25, estimated at $450,000 a year. They get the full sums when each turns 30. Prince William also earns between $68,000 and $74,000 a year as a flight lieutenant with the Royal Air Force while Prince Harry receives between $50,000 and $53,000 as a helicopter pilot for the Army Air Corps. Prince William and Kate will eventually live in an eco friendly house built by Prince Charles in Herefordshire.  Both princes have Ducati Superbikes that they sometimes ride for charity. Prince Harry is also a keen polo player.

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