- King Felipe VI disclosed his assets.
- This transparency is a novelty in view of the royal families in Europe and the world.
- The question arises: how rich are the royals actually?
Last week King Felipe VI. stripped down – in financial terms. The Spanish regent disclosed his private assets, which according to the royal family total almost 2.6 million euros.
“This makes Felipe one of the poorest and at the same time most modern monarchs in the world,” concludes RTL nobility expert Michael Begasse when asked by our editors, referring above all to a decision that the 54-year-old made much earlier: “Of course he was In a way, he was forced to disclose his finances now, even if he ultimately did it voluntarily. But Felipe recognized early on that his father’s financial machinations had put a heavy strain on the reputation of the monarchy. About two years ago, Felipe had declared that he would inherit of Juan Carlos I. The king has an attitude and I take my hat off to that.”
Transparency not given everywhere
Begasse himself was present at the enthronement of Felipe in Madrid in 2014. “It was there for the first time that I saw mass anti-monarchy demonstrations,” the expert recalls. So the Spanish king knows very well that he can only secure his throne if he appears credible to the population. The disclosure of private assets is a further step towards the modernization of the crown.
This form of transparency is a novelty in view of the royal families in Europe and the world. But how rich are the royals actually? Why do the estimates often differ so widely? And can Felipe’s insights into the finances trigger an initial spark?
Begasse does not initially assume the latter and points out that each situation must be considered individually and thus detached from other monarchies. Because: “No monarchy opens the books without pressure,” the long-time observer of the royals is certain. Should the critical voices from the public accumulate, one would probably disclose.
He cites the Netherlands as an example, where King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima are under a lot of pressure: “The opinion polls for last week’s King’s Day clearly indicate that the couple’s reputation and support for the monarchy in general have declined – because they are in Corona times didn’t behave properly. They flew on vacation to Greece while the Netherlands was in complete lockdown. Since the lifestyle of the royal family is also considered to be quite wasteful, resentment has recently arisen.”
The situation in Great Britain is completely different, as Begasse explains: “All economic studies on this clearly state that the British monarchy brings in significantly more money than it costs.”
“Royal top earner” in Europe with private assets of more than three billion euros
With the exception of the Spanish royal family, it is not possible to analyze exactly how much money ultimately ends up with the crowned heads. The question “How rich are the royals?” can only be answered on the basis of estimates – and these sometimes vary widely.
In the case of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, who is considered the “royal top earner” in Europe, the details of private wealth vary between 3.3 billion euros and 4.6 billion euros according to “Forbes”. However, the Grand Duchy’s press office dismissed the latter number as “pure fantasy”. This example shows how difficult it is to make a serious assessment of the private assets of Europe’s monarchs – not to mention the sheikhs and sultans in the Arab world, who unsurprisingly are the clear leaders.
However, Begasse would sign an unwritten law with a view to Europe: the smaller the country, the richer the monarch. Right on Henri’s heels is Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, who, according to various sources, is said to be worth between 2.9 and 3.5 billion euros. Albert II of Monaco also made it onto the European podium. According to research by “Business Insider”, the prince has private assets of around 830 million euros.
But why do the three mini-states lead the money ranking? “Because small monarchies had to look for sources of income early on,” explains Begasse. “In Liechtenstein it was the letterbox companies, in Monaco it was the casino in particular, and in Luxembourg the coffers of the banking institutions were filled with large amounts of black money. Ultimately, the Grand Duke and the two princes also benefited from the economic success of their countries.”
The Queen’s income is steadily increasing
Only after these three exceptional cases has the Queen made herself comfortable. Her fortune is estimated at a good 400 million euros (“Forbes”) or 500 million euros (“Times”). An extrapolation by the “Statista Research Department” – which was not commented on by the royal family – is interesting. The Queen’s income for the financial years 2013 to 2021 was recorded there, made up of income from the real estate and estates of the “Duchy of Lancaster”. The trend shows: If you believe these calculations, the Queen’s income has risen steadily – from 12.7 million pounds (equivalent to 15.1 million euros) in 2013 to 22.3 million pounds (equivalent to 26.5 million euros) in 2021.
From Begasse’s point of view, however, it is advisable to treat all figures with caution. Using the example of the British regent, he makes it clear why this is so. When it comes to estimates of royal wealth, a more differentiated examination is urgently needed, as different assets and sources of income are often lumped together. A fatal mistake! “With regard to the Queen, three households can be distinguished,” explains the nobility expert.
- First: The 96-year-old acts as the head of state in Great Britain, just like the Federal President in Germany. The Queen receives a salary for her work as head of state. “To carry out her work, she is allowed to use public houses that are state-owned. This applies to Buckingham Palace, for example, which does not belong to the Queen,” explains Begasse.
- Secondly: the crown as an institution. Here Elizabeth II is practically the head of the company, which has considerable assets. Begasse explains: “The crown jewels, for example, officially belong to the state, but their exclusive use – as the name suggests – lies with the crown. But: The Queen could not give away or inherit any shares from the crown jewels privately passed on to the next king, who then logically gets the same crown.” A kind of valuable “challenge cup”. However, the crown property also includes land and forest areas, which in turn can be used to generate money. This income goes to the current monarch, i.e. Elizabeth II.
- Third: the Queen as a private person. In addition to the earnings from the Crown Estates, with which she is allowed to fill her bank account, there are also a number of properties that the Queen owns privately. For example, she personally owns Sandringham Palace and Balmoral Castle.
The conclusion: This example reveals both the complexity and the danger involved in appraising the private wealth of kings and queens. “Some statistics include, for example, the crown jewels or the valuable paintings at Windsor Castle Elizabeth II. Yes, they do belong to her – but only for the time of her reign. She cannot sell, inherit or give away these assets,” analyzes the RTL nobility expert.
Speaking of inheritance: Nobody knows how much money Queen Mum († 2002), Princess Margaret († 2002) or Queen’s husband Prince Philip († 2021) left to whom. “The wills in Great Britain have been locked away for 99 years. It is only known about William and Harry that they each inherited 17 million pounds from their mother, Princess Diana, who died in 1997. Without this money, Harry, for example, would have taken the step to the USA without job in the hindquarters. He has endless money,” says Begasse.
Classification of assets generally difficult
The classification is similarly difficult with regard to Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, who is said to take fifth place among the richest royals in Europe. While “Royal Central” assumes assets of between almost 130 and 190 million euros, “Forbes” and “Quote” take it to the extreme with an estimate of around 1.2 billion euros. However, this number seems far too high, since it is assumed that royal possessions were thrown into the private Willem Alexander pot.
Either way, the members of the House of Orange-Nassau are likely to have more money than the Scandinavian royals around King Carl XVI. Gustaf of Sweden, Margrethe II of Denmark and Harald V of Norway. Interesting: The predecessor of the Belgian King Philippe had already disclosed his finances shortly after the turn of the millennium. Instead of the 250 to 625 million euros rumored by media circles at the time, Albert II spoke of 12.5 million euros.
The richest monarch in the world is said to be Rama X
All of the previously mentioned and valued assets – even those from the financially powerful dwarf states of Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Monaco – will only cause a weary smile, especially in Thailand and in the Arab world. According to “statista.com”, the Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej is said to have had private wealth of 30 (!) billion US dollars during his lifetime. How much of it was left for his son Maha Vajiralongkorn, Rama X for short, can only be speculated about. He is considered the richest monarch in the world anyway – despite the fact that various media ascribe up to 70 billion US dollars to the regent, who is known for his authoritarian leadership style.
Behind him are said to be Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei/$20 billion), Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed (United Arab Emirates/$18 billion), King Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz (Saudi Arabia/$17 billion), who died in 2015. dollars) and Sheikh Muhammad bin Raschid Al Maktum (Dubai/12 billion dollars) have made themselves comfortable.
These astronomical figures cannot be verified seriously, but they do not surprise aristocratic expert Michael Begasse either: “Let’s take the Saudi king: he has never submitted a tax return in his entire life. We mustn’t forget that we do it here have to do with autocratic and absolute monarchies. According to his self-image, the whole country belongs to him anyway.”
For Felipe VI in distant Spain, of course, this does not apply. He is “only” the representative of the country, by the way, just like the Federal President in this country. In order to finally classify the disclosure of Felipe’s private assets, Begasse draws the following comparison: “The Spanish king currently receives 259,000 euros gross as an annual salary. He even receives slightly less than our Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is 24,500 euros gross per month including expense allowances , so at 294,000 euros per year.”
They are also the focus of public appearances. The little members of the royal families like George, Archie or Estelle from Sweden are in no way inferior to their parents. They are already blossoming into royal superstars.