• Weird History

Where Does The British Royal Family Get Its Money?

Queen Elizabeth II and her family have fancy titles, posh homes, and big bank accounts. The royal family income is worth millions and bankrolls the queen and her offspring, including her son Prince Charles; grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry (and their growing families); and royals considered less "senior."

How does the royal family get its money? It comes from a variety of sources, ranging from government grants to private estates and - in some cases - even professional careers. With great wealth comes great responsibility, and this income is used personally, in support of royal duties, and to pay for upkeep of royal residences.

  • Photo: Carfax2 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Profits From The Royal Family's Estate Portfolio Go To The UK Government In Exchange For The Sovereign Grant

    The British family holds extensive real estate that dates back centuries. In 1760, King George III handed it over to the British government, a tradition subsequent monarchs have upheld.

    Since 2011, the government has given the queen a so-called "Sovereign Grant" in exchange for the Crown Estate. In 2019, Queen Elizabeth's Sovereign Grant amounted to $105 million.

  • Photo: Sergeant Steven Hughes, RLC/MOD / Wikimedia Commons / OGL v1.0

    The Sovereign Grant Pays To Run The Royal Households, But Not Private Expenses

    Although the Sovereign Grant is usually a substantial amount of money, it's not exactly a salary.

    Money from the grant pays for day-to-day maintenance of the monarchy, covering staff salaries at official residences, utilities, information technology, property maintenance, travel expenses for royal tours, and more.

  • Grants Largely Pay For Repairs To Royal Residences

    The queen must maintain residences at grand, centuries-old castles and palaces. Old buildings are usually money pits - and royal residences are no exception. The queen's official public residences - including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle - require enormous funding to keep them up and running.

    Some of that funding comes from the Sovereign Grant. In 2017, repairs to Buckingham Palace were so astronomical that Parliament had to increase the grant to cover the expenses - to the tune of $482 million. The Royal Collection Trust manages public admissions to royal palaces, and those profits go back into preserving royal collections.

  • Profits From The Duchy Of Cornwall Pay For The Private Expenses Of Prince Charles And His Family

    The Duchy of Cornwall has generated a private income for the next in line to the throne since the 14th century. As Elizabeth's son and heir, Charles, Duke of Cornwall, gets money from the duchy's holdings. Currently, the duchy provides Charles an income of around $28 million every year - though the estate is worth significantly more. 

    Charles isn't the only one who gets money from the Duchy of Cornwall. Both of his sons - Princes William and Harry and their families - receive money from his duchy.