A Facebook post claims that “the British monarchy is worth roughly £73 billion” and that this wealth could instead be “shared between the 19.3 million [families] in the UK”.
This figure is based on an estimate not just of the assets owned by the Royal Family, but also the intangible value of the monarchy to things like UK tourism.
Therefore it’s misleading to suggest all this £73 billion, the majority of which does not refer to tangible assets, could be shared between the population as suggested.
Various estimates exist for the value of the Royal Family’s tangible assets, including one from a brand valuation consultancy of around £25 billion, and another from Forbes in 2021 of $28 billion in US dollars, though neither are comprehensive and different estimates have included different assets in their calculations. The true value of many assets, such as the various royal palaces and the Queen’s own private wealth, is unclear.
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Origin of the figure
As evidence for the claim the Facebook post provides a link which in turn leads to an article published in 2017 by Forbes.
Forbes cited as its source a report published by brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance which, in 2017, estimated the capital value of the monarchy as a business to be around £67.5 billion.
Forbes reported a valuation of $88 billion, the approximate value, at the time, in dollars, of £67.5 billion.
The Facebook post appears to have obtained its figure of £73 billion by converting this figure back into pounds sterling, using current exchange rates.
What the figure refers to
Brand Finance’s figure comprises £25.5 billion of tangible assets (like property) and £42 billion in intangible value, which includes things like the value of the monarchy to UK tourism.
The figure of £73 billion is therefore not an accurate representation of the actual wealth held by the British monarch, but an estimate for the monarchy’s total value, including its value to the UK as a brand.
Therefore it’s misleading to suggest all this “value” could be liquidated and shared out between the UK population.
The £25.5 billion of tangible assets referred to by Brand Finance includes the total worth of the Crown Estate, the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall and the Royal Collection — the world’s largest privately held art collection. It does not include private assets held by members of the Royal Family or the value of royal palaces such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
What is the Royal Family worth?
It is difficult to put a precise figure on the value of the Royal Family’s assets.
The Sovereign owns the Crown Estate, a portfolio of property and other holdings, which in 2021/22 had net assets of £16.5 billion, though this isn’t their personal property, and they cannot sell any part of it for personal gain.
The money generated from the Crown Estate (e.g. through rent), is surrendered to the government, which in turn provides the monarch with a grant to support their official business, as well as staff and maintenance costs for the Royal Household.
For the financial year 2022/23 the Queen received a grant of £86.3 million, which accounts for 25% of Crown Estate profits. Under the terms of the Sovereign Grant, 15% of the Crown Estate’s net profits are provided to the Queen, with an extra 10 percentage points having been included since 2017-18 used to support the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace.
The royal family also own the Duchy of Lancaster, which, in March 2022, had net assets of £653 million, and which provides a private income to the Sovereign through its profits, worth £24 million in the previous financial year. As with the Crown Estate, the Sovereign is not entitled to sell assets belonging to the Duchy for personal gain.
The monarch also has private property. For example, the Queen owned the Royal Stud— a horse breeding farm— at Sandringham personally, and according to the Sunday Times rich list her personal wealth this year was estimated to be around £370 million. King Charles is expected to have inherited much of this.
And then there are the assets of other royals such as the Duchy of Cornwall, owned by the Duke of Cornwall (Prince William), with net assets of £1 billion, which he is not entitled to sell, and profits of around £23 million, which he receives.
Image courtesy of Carfax2