How Queen Elizabeth II Lives Like a Billionaire — Even Though She’s Not

Queen Elizabeth II is one of the richest and most powerful women in the world. (Even if most of her political power is purely ceremonial.) But the queen isn’t as wealthy as you probably think she is. She divides her time among spectacular royal residences. Plus, she wears incredibly valuable Crown Jewels on special occasions. And when she travels, she can even choose to go by private train.

But despite her lavish lifestyle, the queen isn’t actually a billionaire. And she doesn’t even rank among the richest people in the United Kingdom. Ahead, find out exactly how Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, live like billionaires even though they’re not.

Queen Elizabeth II isn’t the richest person in the U.K.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II | Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Forbes reports that Queen Elizabeth II “undoubtedly lives life like a multi-billionaire, but is she one? Technically, no.” As Quartz explains, “the queen isn’t even close to being the richest aristocrat in Britain.” She currently ranks as the 17th-richest person in the United Kingdom. She has a net worth of “a relatively modest £370 million ($485 million).” That pales in comparison to the £10 billion net worth of Hugh Grosvenor, the richest person in Britain.

The queen’s wealth “derives from funds given to her by the government and her private income, generated from assets and investments,” Quartz explains. The queen has a very diverse array of assets. That includes more than 100 racehorses who have produced winnings of £7 million over the past 30 years. Her property portfolio also generates a significant amount of money for her.

Additionally, the “sovereign grant” gives her a cut of the profits from the Crown Estate’s £13 billion property portfolio. As MarketWatch reports, the assets of the U.K. monarchy are worth about $28.8 billion. But those assets — including property owned by the Crown Estate, the Crown Jewels, and the Royal Art Collection — “aren’t the Queen’s private property and not for her to sell or manage. Instead, they are held in trusts for future generations and help pay the royal family’s expenses.” The publication adds, “This means the Queen, personally, is no billionaire.”

The Crown Estate owns many royal assets that the queen enjoys

The Week characterizes the Crown Estate as the company that manages “a collection of land and property across the U.K. that traces its history back to the Norman conquest.” The reigning monarch technically owns this portfolio. But it doesn’t count as the queen’s private property. “For hundreds of years, the revenues from the estate have been passed to the government, and a set amount passed back to fund the monarch’s household, working royals, and official duties,” The Week explains.

The Express explains that “Royal palaces including Buckingham are owned by the Crown Estate and made available to the monarch in the same way that 10 Downing Street is the residence of the current Prime Minister. The Crown Estate also owns Windsor Castle and Clarence House.” The queen and her family can live in these properties. But the family doesn’t privately own them.

As Forbes notes, assets such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are priceless. They enable Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to live like billionaires. “But neither home belongs to her Majesty,” Forbes reports. “They are the property of the British nation. Other royal assets that the Queen enjoys but are owned by Britain include the Royal Art collection, the Crown Jewels, [and] $11 billion worth of UK property held through the Crown Estate.”

But Queen Elizabeth II does own personal property

Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t own Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. But she does own another residence where she enjoys spending time: Balmoral Castle. The private estate in the Scottish Highlands was owned by Queen Victoria, from whom Queen Elizabeth II is directly descended.

As The Telegraph reports, the queen inherited Balmoral from her father. He actually had to buy Balmoral and Sandringham from his brother, who abdicated the throne. The queen’s private property also includes stud farms, a fruit farm, marine land, personal art, and fine jewelry. She also has one of the world’s largest stamp collections, the Royal Philatelic Collection. Her ancestors started the collection in the early 19th century.

The Week notes that Queen Elizabeth II also derives private income from the Privy Purse. That includes revenue from the Duchy of Lancaster, a hereditary portfolio of assets. The Duchy of Lancaster is different from the Duchy of Cornwall, another hereditary estate that pays income to the heir to the throne, the Prince of Wales, currently Prince Charles.

Read more: This Is the Real Reason Why Queen Elizabeth II Didn’t Expect to Be Queen

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