The Queen isn’t even close to being the richest aristocrat in Britain

Crowning glory.
Crowning glory.
Image: Reuters/Toby Melville
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Queen Elizabeth II’s financial accounts were released today (June 28). Her taxpayer-funded costs rose by 13% in the year to March, despite the Crown Estate—the property portfolio that serves as the Queen’s main source of income—making millions from prime retail space in London and offshore wind farms (paywall). As it happens, the Queen is only the 17th-richest aristocrat in Britain.

Last month, the Sunday Times annual Rich List (paywall) ranked the 1,000 richest people in the UK, estimating the wealth of Britain’s reigning monarch at a relatively modest £370 million ($485 million). This is dwarfed by the richest aristocrat in Britain, who is also the youngest rich person in the UK: 27-year-old Hugh Grosvenor, otherwise known as the Duke of Westminster, who is worth close to £10 billion.

The Sunday Times calculated the net worth of people across Britain based on identifiable wealth, including land, property, other assets such as art, and shares in public companies. The calculations do not include bank accounts, which the paper can’t access. The estimates include spouses who actively participate in their partners’ businesses or who pool their assets, as well as family members who share business interests.

The Queen’s wealth derives from funds given to her by the government and her private income, generated from assets and investments. Her assets are incredibly diverse—for example, she owns over 100 racehorses that have produced winnings of about £7 million over the past 30 years.

Like most of the aristocrats in the list, the Queen’s property portfolio generates sizable wealth for her. Until recently, the “sovereign grant” siphoned off 15% of profits from the Crown Estate’s £13 billion property portfolio, paid two years in arrears. (The rest goes to the UK treasury “for the benefit of the nation’s finances.”) The grant was boosted to 25% for the next decade, in part to cover the cost of renovations to Buckingham Palace. Even with the bump, the Queen probably won’t rise up the rankings in a significant way.

Property and land are what have made most of Britain’s aristocrats billionaires or multi-millionaires. The current Duke of Westminster, who inherited the title following the death of his father two years ago, controls a property empire that spans some of the most lucrative areas in London, such as Mayfair, as well as Oxford, Cheshire, Scotland, and Spain.