The late Queen Elizabeth II died on 8 September 2022 at the age of 96, after serving as the longest reigning monarch. By convention, after a senior royal dies, the executor of their Will applies to the Head of London High Court’s Family Division for the Will to be sealed. Following this convention, the Queen’s Will is expected to be sealed and locked in a safe at an undisclosed location in London for the next 90(!) years. This means that the exact distribution of her assets will not be known for several generations.
The Queen’s Personal Assets
What we do know is that soon-to-be-coronated King Charles, as the Queen’s eldest son, inherited her private estates which were her personal assets accumulated over her 70 years on the throne. This includes her much-loved castle at Balmoral, Scotland, where she died, as well as Sandringham in eastern England; worth $118 million and $73 million respectively. Sandrigham is also home to the thoroughbred horse farm known as the Royal Studs. Charles presumably inherits all 100 of her horses, too, but we can’t be sure since the details aren’t public. We’re hoping the grandkids inherited at least a couple of ponies each.
Along with the swaths of land and regal estates, King Charles is expected to also gain possession of his mother’s enormous private collection of jewellery, art, rare stamps and any personal investments (of which there are a few). All up, this personally-owned property is estimated to be worth around $500 million. And just to sweeten the deal, Charles won’t have to pay a cent of inheritance tax thanks to a 1993 agreement with the British government that exempts transfers of property from one sovereign to another.
As well as all the tax-free opulence, the late monarch leaves behind a whopping $42 billion portfolio of assets held in trust for the kingdom. As the new monarch, Charles assumes ownership of the institutions that manage the gigantic portfolio, which includes billions in investments, more famous palaces, more priceless art and the crowning glory – the Crown Jewels – worth over $4 billion alone.
All of this has been passed to the King in trust as sovereign, or, “in right of the Crown”. In other words, the assets all belong to the “family” business which is an actual corporation and organisation owned by the royals. Rather than ever owning any of it directly, Charles will hold it all “in trust” for his successors and the nation, for the duration of his reign–- meaning none of it can actually be sold.
The single most valuable asset now held by King Charles is the Crown Estate. This sprawling real estate portfolio incorporates Regent Street – London’s (and potentially the world’s) prime shopping destination – as well as Ascot Racecourse and virtually the entire UK seabed. All of it’s worth an eye-watering $17.5 billion.
The Sovereign Grant
While she was alive, the Queen received a yearly sum through what is known as the Sovereign Grant, which is equivalent to GBP1.29 per person in the United Kingdom. Last financial year, that came to around $148 million Aussie dollars. The princely salary doesn’t all go to Charles – a fraction of it is set aside for maintaining Buckingham Palace and another portion will be used to fund official travel, formal events and operating costs of the King’s household.
The Sovereign Grant isn’t Charles’ only source of income. As King, he also gains control of the Duchy of Lancaster, which was calculated to be the major source of the Queen’s personal wealth in 2015. The Duchy of Lancaster is the sovereign’s private estate, existing purely to give the reigning monarch an income. This year it was valued at 652 million pounds and generated a net surplus of 24 million pounds. The surplus revenue goes directly to the King as an allowance called the Privy purse, which covers any other official expenditures.
The Times reported the Duchy of Lancaster as an inalienable asset of the Crown, meaning it would not even appear in the Queen’s Will and simply be passed from sovereign to sovereign, without any tax being paid. The Queen however agreed in 1993 to voluntarily pay income tax on the portion of the Privy Purse not used for official purposes – and Charles agreed to maintain the same policy upon his accession.
We guess that makes for a couple more things we have in common with our Head of State: death and (some) taxes.
Don’t leave your family wondering who gets the corgis – write your Will online today.