When we talk about Charles though, there is a private citizen, a longtime public servant and now, at the age of 73, head of state. It is not always easy to determine what is private and what is owned by the state. Undoubtedly much of its shimmering pomp, such as the Crown Jewels, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace belong to the state rather than the royal family.
Today, however, Charles III controls a large real estate and investment portfolio, and soon his profile will decorate the country’s currency. A look back shows interest in a business filled with tax breaks, real estate deals, and some offshore accounts.
Buckingham Palace, the most famous royal residence, belongs to the people
The Duchy of Cornwall, a historical anomaly
As Prince of Wales, Charles relied on the Duchy of Cornwall for the greater part of his income, to finance his personal and official expenses. The duchy is a private corporation with approximately 52,450 hectares (approximately 130,000 acres) of land spread over 20 counties in England and Wales.
The property portfolio includes 260 fully equipped farms, forests and numerous residential and commercial properties. The duchy also controls parts of the coast and has a financial investment portfolio.
The duchy has been around since 1337 and was originally a vehicle to support the heir to the throne. By law, the beneficiary cannot sell the assets, and receives compensation only from the revenue generated.
In 1969, when Charles was 21 years old, he began receiving the full income of the duchy. By the 1980s, he had taken a more active interest in what had been a fairly comfortable job.
Laura Clancy, lecturer at Lancaster University and author of Running the Family Business: How the Monarchy Runs Its Image and Our Money.
“That means it wasn’t just a pile of land, it was a more productive portfolio,” she told DW.
Currently, the management team supports 180 employees from the headquarters in London and various local offices. Their main focus remains land, rentals and property development. But in 2017, documents known as Paradise Papers showed that they had invested money in offshore companies. Embarrassing though it may be, the spokesperson shielded Charles, saying that others are responsible for investment decisions.
And while there are many long-term tenants, some tenants have complained over the years about not getting fair deals. Last year, it was revealed that the then-Prince had used his influence for decades to scrutinize laws to prevent tenants from buying property. However, the duchy was a goldmine for him.
Professionalization of the Duchy of Cornwall
For the 2002/03 year, the duchy announced revenue of approximately £10 million ($11.4 million, €11.4 million), which was then transferred to Charles. The total value of the property was about 400 million pounds. Since then, the numbers have risen nearly every year, according to annual reports.
For the year 2011/2012, the duchy recorded revenues of 18.3 million pounds, and the value of the estate amounted to 728 million pounds. For the year ending March 31, 2022, the duchy recorded 23 million pounds in revenues for the prince and net assets of 1.049 billion pounds. This means that revenue has doubled while property value has increased by nearly 200% in two decades.
And in another stroke of luck, the ducal government is exempt from corporate tax. Although the prince has voluntarily paid income tax since 1993 on the money he received from the duchy – but only after deducting his official expenses.
It will be difficult to follow the work of Queen Elizabeth II
Pass on the Duchy, move on to bigger things
Now that Charles is king, he will hand over the Duchy of Cornwall to his son, William. In return, the new king would have three other sources of income: revenue from the Duchy of Lancaster, payments from the Crown Estate and his share of Queen Elizabeth’s personal wealth.
The Duchy of Lancaster is similar to the Duchy of Cornwall. It is not the property of the king, but they receive income from it. Last year, the Duchy of Lancaster and 18,000 hectares of rural land and principal property in London paid the Queen £24m and she has £652m assets.
The Crown Estate is a multi-billion pound property that encompasses much of the seabed across the country. This property is not the property of the King either, but it is guaranteed a payment of its revenue, the so-called Sovereign Grant. It is managed by a board of directors without interference from the royal family. Last year, it made profits amounting to 313 million pounds, and paid the queen 86 million pounds to cover official duties, employees, travel expenses and maintenance of the palace. The rest went to the government.
Add to all that everything Charles would inherit directly from his mother’s personal assets, things like property – Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where Elizabeth II died, and Sandringham – racehorses, cash, investments and an irreplaceable collection of jewellery, art and furniture that has been amassed over generations. last year, Forbes The Queen’s fortune is estimated to be around $500 million.
Can King Charles and his wife Camilla convince people that they have a touch in common despite their wealth?
Too rich people?
When it comes to investments, the Queen has reportedly been without interference in the administration. Some question whether King Charles will interfere with his new financial interests as he did when he was Prince of Wales.
Whether the king takes control of finances or not, he cannot hide the fact that these privileges go back centuries and are not based on personal accomplishments. It is a reminder of the bloated power in a constitutional monarchy.
Likewise, many aren’t happy about Charles being exempted from the standard 40% inheritance tax, an agreement with the government decades ago. Others argue that the royal family is a tourist attraction and a unique way to advertise the United Kingdom.
Laura Clancy of Lancaster University described the family as a “company” to unmask as a company and understand its wealth and power. But she does not believe that their wealth, the lack of transparency and the inequality this shows would be an undoing of the monarchy.
The Queen’s secret was that she was a “quiet presence” and did not interfere in public discussions, said Nikhil Kumar, Global Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Grid, he told DW. Her longevity gave her a “star of history”. It remains to be seen if King Charles can keep up. If not, all the money in the world might not save the monarchy.
Edited by: Hardy Graupner