How Rich Is King Charles III? Inside The New Monarch’s Outrageous Fortune
As the new head of The Firm, Charles now oversees some $42 billion in assets and inherited $500 million from Queen Elizabeth, including her castles, jewels, art collection and a horse farm—all of it tax-free.
When you’re a member of the House of Windsor, going into the family business may come with a lifetime of prestige and privilege, but it doesn’t always bring great wealth. Even members of The Firm—as high-ranking royals have been known since the days of King George VI—are often dependent on their elders for allowances, gifts and other blue-blooded handouts.
But it’s still good to be the king.
After training for the position for more than 70 years, King Charles III inherited large swaths of land, regal estates, rare jewels, paintings and other personal property—some going back centuries—from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. He also now oversees the late monarch’s $42 billion portfolio of assets held in trust for the kingdom, including billions in investments—and other opulent palaces, glittering jewels and priceless art that he will never actually own.
Castle, Sweet Castle: Balmoral in Scotland, which has been in the royal family since 1852, was where the Queen spent her summers and the final days of her life.
Castle, Sweet Castle: Balmoral in Scotland, which has been in the royal family since 1852, was where the Queen spent her summers and the final days of her life.ROBERT PLATTNER/GETTY IMAGES, BETTMANN/GETTY IMAGES
Her Majesty’s will is expected to be sealed for at least 90 years so the exact distribution of her assets will not be known for several generations. But as her eldest son, Charles inherited the Queen’s private estates—her much-loved castle in Balmoral, Scotland, where she died, as well as Sandringham in eastern England, home to the thoroughbred horse farm known as the Royal Studs. King Charles is also expected to inherit her enormous private collection of jewelry, art, rare stamps and any personal investments. Altogether, Forbes values these personal assets at $500 million. And Charles won’t have to pay a shilling of inheritance tax, thanks to a 1993 agreement with the British government that exempts transfers of property from one sovereign to another.
The 73-year-old monarch also accedes the throne with a king’s ransom of his own, largely through the lucrative annual income he received from the Duchy of Cornwall, which earned him some $27 million this year and which his eldest son, Prince William, will now inherit. As Prince of Wales, Charles launched several ventures to protect the environment and foster organic farming. Through his Charitable Foundation (which William also inherits now), Charles owned the largest organic food brand in the U.K., as well as a nature retreat and crafts center in Transylvania that each operate as bed and breakfasts.
Estate of the Union: Sandringham, one of King Charles' royal residences, sits on 20,000 acres and has its own stud farm for horses.
Estate of the Union: Sandringham, one of King Charles' royal residences, sits on 20,000 acres and has its own stud farm for horses.DENNIS OULDS/GETTY IMAGES, RADCLIFFE BAUER GRIFFIN/GETTY IMAGES
Prince William will now take possession of the Duchy of Cornwall, a conglomerate with $1.2 billion in net assets including the Oval cricket ground in London, Charles’ former residence at Highgrove House (where he first began farming organically in 1985) and the Isles of Scilly, but the new King will not exactly be left wanting for prime real estate.
As the new monarch, Charles assumes ownership of institutions that manage an estimated $42 billion in assets, including some of the world’s most famous royal palaces and the Crown Jewels. These assets—which include Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London—aren’t held directly by the King, but are instead owned by the reigning monarch “in right of the Crown” for the duration of their reign. They are also held “in trust” for his successors and the nation—meaning they can’t actually be sold.
In contrast to the various estates, which file annual reports, the palaces and jewels are often thought of as priceless. So what’s it all worth? Forbes gave it a royal effort.
THE CROWN’S HOLDINGS
The single most valuable asset held by King Charles is the Crown Estate, a sprawling real estate portfolio with $17.5 billion in net assets. Those properties include Regent Street, London’s prime shopping destination, as well as Ascot Racecourse (a favorite of the Queen) and virtually the entire seabed of the U.K. All of the Crown Estate’s net profit—$361 million in fiscal year 2022—goes to the British Treasury. But the royal family also gets a cut: They receive an allowance from the Treasury known as the “Sovereign Grant,” equal to 25% of the net profit for the financial year two years earlier. In 2022, the Sovereign Grant amounted to $99.6 million, based on the Crown Estate’s net profit in the 2019-20 financial year.
A Prince's Ransom: William and Kate's nine-day tour of Jamaica, Belize, and The Bahamas cost roughly $260,000.
A Prince's Ransom: William and Kate's nine-day tour of Jamaica, Belize, and The Bahamas cost roughly $260,000.CHRIS JACKSON/GETTY IMAGES
That enormous windfall doesn’t go directly to Charles, however. A 10% cut of that net profit—$39.8 million for 2022—is set aside for maintaining Buckingham Palace, and an additional 15% is used to finance the royal family’s annual travel, formal events, housekeeping and payroll. And those bills add up fast.
The most expensive trip taken by the royals in the past year, for instance, was Prince William and Kate’s nine-day visit to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas in March, which cost roughly $260,000, including planning prior to the visit.
The Sovereign Grant isn’t Charles’ only source of income. For one, it doesn’t cover physical security. As King, he also gains control of the Duchy of Lancaster, a private estate with $753 million in net assets that is owned in trust by the monarch. The Duchy’s net revenues go directly to the King as an allowance called the Privy Purse, which covers any other official expenditures. (In 2022, that amounted to $24 million, pre-tax.) Unlike the Sovereign Grant, which is tax-free, the Queen 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.