How Does Queen Elizabeth II Actually Make Money?

This article originally appeared and was published on

Castles, land, lavish jewels and everything regal—we all know that being royalty means being really, really rich. Queen Elizabeth II is no exception.

Though much of it is (obviously) inherited, we never really stop to think about just how much money the royals actually make year after year.

More importantly, where does that money come from? There’s no set salary for being The Queen of England, though it would be nice if it were that simple.

Being royalty comes with endless obligations and responsibilities, and they’re not necessarily compensated directly with money. Fortunately, however, there’s a specific set of grants and rules in place that allow The Queen to generate an income every year.

So bow down and take note—here are the three ways The Queen makes money:

1. Private Income

This includes money from inherited private estates, such as Sandringham and Balmoral Castle, and her personal investment portfolio. The Queen pays income tax on the revenue but her private wealth is not made public.

Don’t let her day job fool you. The Queen, much like us commoners, has her own portfolio of financial investments which she profits off of. Another great thing about being royalty is all of that fun stuff you get to inherit when you take the crown, namely private estates.

This, however, does not include royal heirlooms (like the Crown Jewels) or other royal estates (you know, like that Buckingham Palace place) that are not The Queen’s to sell.

It should be noted that though The Queen has paid income taxes since 1993, they remain private.

Translation: though it can be estimated, there’s no actual way to find out just how much money she actually has.

We suppose you could ask her, but that might be a bit forward.

2. The Duchy of Lancaster (provides the Privy Purse)

No, we’re not speaking a different language.

The Duchy of Lancaster is a compilation of over 18,000 hectares of land, property and other assets in both England and Wales.

It’s been around since 1399 and is meant to provide a set income for The Queen, who is also known as the Duke of Lancaster (even though she’s a woman).

The Privy Purse is the name of the income that’s generated from the Duchy, which is used for the upkeep of The Duchy’s land and property, as well as to fund her private and official expenditures.

The Queen receives all of the net profits from The Duchy, which she voluntarily pays income tax on.

The Privy Purse is generally considered to be The Queen’s private income, though it’s unofficial.

3. Sovereign Grant

This one involves a fun history lesson—we’ll make it brief, don’t worry.

Back in 1760, King George III had inherited a very large and profitable portfolio of land and property (including most of England’s seabed) called the Crown Estate.

Though the land generated a mass amount of revenue, the King was not directly profiting from it because the money was going directly to paying the salaries of the country’s judges, ambassadors and civil servants (which was called the Civil List).

Naturally, King George was annoyed so he made a deal with Parliament—he would hand over the revenue generated by the Crown Estate to the treasury if Parliament agreed to pay for the Civil List.

Oh, and he wanted a hefty lump sum, too. Parliament agreed.

So, what does this have to do with the Sovereign Grant?

The Sovereign Grant is a chunk of money that The Queen receives from the Treasury every year, which is 15% of the profits from the Crown Estate.

See, it all makes sense!

Since the profits generated by the Crown Estate vary year over year, so does the amount given to The Queen.

The Sovereign Grant is used to fund upkeep of occupied properties and residences (like Buckingham and Kensington Palaces) as well as royal travel expenditures and garden parties.

More from

How the royal family has done Christmas over the years
The 50 strict rules the royal family has to follow
13 fascinating facts you didn’t know about the royal family