What child didn’t dream of being a prince or princess when they grew up? Few monarchs actually fit the storybook ideal of living in castles and reigning from diamond-encrusted thrones that we, as children, may have imagined. Still, many have amassed a fortune that makes grownup men and women green with envy.
Perhaps surprisingly, being born into a royal family isn’t the only way the world’s wealthiest royals earned a coveted spot on this list. Sure, inheriting much of their wealth helped, but many of these royals actually earned a large share of their fortune through investments and business ventures. Being born into the right family has a lot to do with these royals’ wealth but talent and hard work are a lesser – but not insignificant – contributing factor to their megawealth.
In fact, many royals invest. For instance, the Queen of England herself holds investments in real estate and other diverse assets. Meanwhile, many of the richest royals in the world owe their massive wealth to their country’s natural resources – many of the Middle Eastern royals’ wealth can be tied to investments in oil and other natural resources that are valuable all over the world. Who are the ten very richest of that class of people we often believe to be the wealthiest in the world? These ten royals are topping this list as of 2014.
10. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman – $700 million
Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said reigns Oman as an absolute monarch, although he’s recently demonstrated openness towards the idea of parliamentary elections where women can vote and run for office. He’s succeeded in making Oman a neutral state capable of working with both Iran and the United States, and he’s been given the Peace Award by the National Council on US-Arab Relations. Since overthrowing his own father in a coup, this royal has broadened international relations, established high schools, built highways, and spends a significant portion of oil revenue on health care and education for his country.
9. Prince Albert II of Monaco – $1 billion
Prince Albert II is the son of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III, former prince of Monaco. Known as bit of a playboy, he has two children out of wedlock and in 2011 married beautiful South African, Charlene Wittstock. His assets include real estate both in Monaco and France and he holds the Societe des bains de mer de Monaco which operates the gaming and entertainment industry of Monaco. In addition to his real estate, Prince Albert is also a car enthusiast and owns several enviable vehicles including a BMW Hydrogen 7. He also owns a fourteen-passenger leisure jet and several personal homes.
8. King Mohammed VI of Morocco – $2.5 billion
King Mohammed VI is the current king of Morocco, taking the throne in 1999 after the death of his father, King Hassan II. He also happens to be Morocco’s leading businessman, banker, agricultural producer and land owner. His family has one of the largest fortunes in the world, and it’s said that the daily operating budget for his 12 palaces is around $960,000. Yes, you read that right: It’s almost $1 million a day to maintain his houses including personnel, clothes and car repairs. Even so, he’s been championed as a “defender of the poor” and has made a public promise to take on poverty and corruption…
7. Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein – $3.5 billion
The Prince of Liechtenstein has very broad, almost exclusive ruling power. However, while still nominally head of the country, he has allowed his son to do most of the day-to-day governing of late. Prince Hans-Adam is the richest European monarch, and one of the richest heads of state worldwide. He owns LGT banking group and he has an extensive art collection which is displayed at the Liechtenstein Museum.
6. Prince Azim, Brunei – $5 billion
Known as the Playboy Prince, Prince Haji Abdul Azim is third in line for the Brunei throne. Prince Azim is well-known for throwing massive, celebrity-filled parties including the 2009 “Party of the Year” featuring big names like Mariah Carey, Sophia Loren and Janet Jackson. But in addition to his notorious partying and celebrity-like presence in the media, Prince Azim is also a philanthropist, supporting events like Sounds of Hope and charities like Make a Wish.
5. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan – $15 billion
As hereditary ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan is one of the world’s richest rulers. While he does control 97.8 billion barrels of oil reserves, not all of his wealth stems from natural resources. He also runs a sovereign wealth fund with assets of about $627 billion. What does Al-Nahyan do with his wealth? Well, for one, he owns a 30-acre estate in the Seychelles where he also sent over $130 million in aid for social service, military aid and more. He’s also spent a large amount of his money on philanthropic endeavors, including founding the Khalifa Award for Education among others.
4. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz – $17 billion
Not only is he king of one of the top 20 richest countries in the world, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz also controls one of the world’s largest crude oil deposits. He has led Saudi Arabia through the global recession, and even Arab Spring did little to affect his fortune or power. While there have been struggles with unemployment, the king pushed through $130 billion in unemployment packages and housing programs. However, the king is 90 years old, and he lost his second heir apparent recently, leaving his other brother, 76-year old Prince Salman, to take over upon his death.
3. Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah – $20 billion
Not only is Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah the Sultan of Brunei, he’s also the Prime Minister – giving him complete control over the country. Of course, even a Sultan has to have hobbies, right? When you have billions to your name, your hobbies tend to be expensive, and Bolkiah is no different. His hobby is collecting cars, but not just any cars – some of the most expensive luxury cars on the planet. And he has plenty of them. It’s estimated that he has anywhere from 3,000-6,000 cars including over 600 Rolls Royces alone.
2. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud of Saudi Arabia – $21.4 billion
Alwaleed bin Talal has been compared to Warren Buffett for his wise investment strategies which have led to his amassing an astounding, almost incomprehensible, level of wealth. Considered one of the biggest investors in the world, Alwaleed bin Talal is King Abdullah’s nephew. Although he has little actual political power, he’s still a billionaire and a prince, and he very publicly and extravagantly lives the life of luxury with palaces and even an Airbus A380 decked out with a concert hall and 20 suites.
1. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand – $30 billion
Not only is the King of Thailand one of the richest royals in the world, he’s also the longest reigning monarch in his country’s history. Ruling over Thailand for 68 years, he’s the longest-serving current head of state. Much of his fortune comes from his business interests in real estate and investments in companies like Siam Cement and Siam Commercial bank. And how does a royal with $30 billion spend such money? Well, most of that is unknown and kept private, but it’s estimated that the Thai palace spends about $500 million a year, which is ten times what Britain’s royal family spends.