The life of a royal is far beyond most of our aspirations or even hopes. Royals live in a distinctly different world of titled prestige, duty and hierarchy. It's a world most of us cannot even imagine, especially if we're not from a country with its own royal family. Yet even if we don't understand the mysteries of royalty, the public is nonetheless endlessly fascinated by what the royals get up to: it’s not just Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge who have provided us with tabloid fodder, either. From medieval times the monarchy and their surrounding nobility have been a bulwark of gossip and expectation.
But what does the monarchy really get up to behind closed doors, and how is it that they maintain their lavish lifestyles? The British royals are not only one of the world’s best known royal families - they're also one of the most expensive, second only to the Netherlands. They are the owners and trustees of the country’s ancient palaces, and art collections which together are valued at billions of dollars. Aside from ancient wealth they receive an annual grant from the government to carry out their public duties while some have additional incomes. There are, of course, downsides to being a royal: as descendants of the Crown, they are not entitled to vote or engage in political life. The lack of privacy in daily life for the royals means their every move is scrutinised and they must have protection officers with them at all times.
Overall though, it does seem like the British royals have a pretty sweet deal in many ways, with fortune, favour and fancy integral to their lifestyles. The royal accounts, like any other public spending in the UK, are published annually, and detail the highs and lows of spending in the House of Windsor. We've taken a look at the royals' books, along with some other moments in recent royal history to see just how much of the tax payers' money the royals spend and how they spend it.
10 $667,120: The Value of the Royal Drinks Collection
9 $1.67 Million: The Cost of the Royal Barge, Gloriana.
8 $7.5 Million: The Cost of Travel for the Royal Family in 2013
7 $16.7 Million: The Cost to the Taxpayer of the 2011 Royal Wedding
The Queen may be the head and heart of the Royal Family and indeed the State, but it’s Kate and Wills who are the Royal Family’s superstars. Their 2011 wedding saw the news cogs grind to a halt as the world was transfixed watching the Royal newlyweds. The Royal Family, and to a lesser extent Kate’s family the Middletons, did foot the bill for much of the wedding: Kate’s dress, jewellery, guests' dining and accommodation as well any rental, catering and temporary staffing costs would have been covered by both families' personal finances.
6 $30.5 Million: Payroll Costs for the Royal Household
5 $31.7 Million: Prince’s Charles’ Annual Income
4 $51.7 Million: The Sovereign Grant for 2013
The Royal Family are allocated an annual Sovereign Grant by the British government to cover the costs and maintenance of their properties, salaries and all other expenses. For 2013, the government allocated £31 million or $51.7 USD.
3 $55.5 Million: The Amount Actually Spent by the Crown in 2013
2 $833.9 Million: The Amount the Royal Family Generates in Tourism for the UK
1 $13.5 Billion: The Combined Value of the Royal Properties
It’s not surprising that the Royal real estate comes in at number 1 with our biggest price tag, but $13.5 billion is a staggering figure. There are eight palaces in the United Kingdom that are currently occupied by the Royal Family: Clarence House in London is the official residence of the Prince of Wales, and a number of members of the Royal Family live in St. James’ Palace. The Queen herself moves throughout the properties following the traditional court calendar. This includes Balmoral Castle and Holyroodhouse in Scotland, Sandringham estate in Norfolk and of course Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Windsor itself is the largest occupied castle in the world and it’s dining hall alone is 182 feet long. It’s also only a short trip from Windsor to the world famous Ascot races where the Grand National is held. On top of these lived-in properties, there are also the unoccupied palaces and houses that are still owned by the Royal Family. The majority of these are open to the public and range from Henry VIII’s enormous palace at Hampton Court, to Queen Victoria’s romantic getaway spot with her husband on the Isle of Wight.
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