Corgis, castles and handbags: What happens to Queen’s wealth after her death?
“What will happen to her corgis?” is one of the many questions raised since Queen Elizabeth II’s death. The dogs, which the Queen spent decades breeding, trended on social media around the world and Google searches about them and their future skyrocketed by almost 200%, according to Google.
That question has now been answered – the Queen’s son Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson (who still live together despite their divorce) will take them in, a spokesperson for the pair confirmed to the BBC. But what else did the Queen own, how much was it worth and what happens to it now that she has died?
No one knows the Queen’s exact net worth – Britain’s Sunday Times estimated her wealth at a £370 million ($426 million) on their 2022 Rich List, up £5 million from 2021, an increase which the paper linked to the Queen’s stock market investments. In 2021, Forbes suggested she had $500 million in assets.
There are two main reasons why it’s so difficult to estimate her wealth. Firstly, there are no official breakdowns of her investments and assets. And secondly, some of the things the Queen “owned” actually belong to the ruling monarch — whoever they are — or the “royal institution” or “royal firm,” which views the royal family more as a business entity, with support staff and capital.
Using publicly available information, we can catch a glimpse of the late monarch’s vast wealth, held both privately and through the royal firm, but the Queen’s exact net-worth is still shrouded in mystery, and specific figures will likely never be released.
The Queen’s property – and why King Charles II doesn’t have to pay inheritance tax on his share of it
Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where the Queen spent her last days, and Sandringham House in the English countryside — which sits on a 20,000-acre estate — were two of her personally owned royal private residencies.
This makes them unusual — other famous royal buildings like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are owned by the reigning monarch as part of the royal institution.
The Queen also privately owned the Duchy of Lancaster, which consists of 45,000 acres of land and includes numerous farms, castles, and commercial buildings. It is worth £652.8 million and made a profit of £24 million last year, according to the Duchy’s financial records.
Due to a law enacted in 1933, King Charles III automatically inherits the estate and does not have to pay inheritance tax on it – usually this is set at 40% for properties worth over £325,000 ($377,000) in Britain. Paying tax on the Duchy alone would have therefore cost him around £262.2 million ($300 million) in tax.
Not just Corgis: Racehorses, swans, whales and more
Corgis aren’t the only dogs the Queen owned and loved – throughout her life, she kept at least 30 Labradors, cocker spaniels, corgi-crosses and, of course, corgis.
She also loved horses and is estimated to have owned over 100 throughout her life, many of which were racehorses. Earlier this year, sports betting platform OLBG estimated the Queen’s racehorses had won her £8.7 ($10 million) million since 1988. According to the data, she made £584,399 ($671,936) in 2021 alone.
Rumors are still circulating as to who will take care of the horses now. The Mail on Sunday reported that it is likely to be the King’s wife, Queen Consort Camilla, while a source told the New York Post that the Queen’s daughter Princess Anne and Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall — both of whom were Olympic equestrians — will take over.
The Queen also owns Britain’s swans — or more specifically, all unmarked swans that live in any open bodies of water in England and Wales — as well as any whales, sturgeons and porpoises living within three miles of the British shore. These have now all been passed on to King Charles, as they technically belong to the monarch.
The Queen’s style: from handbags to jewelry
The Queen was rarely seen without a small handbag, often matching her coat and hat. Most often she carried bags from luxury brand Launer London – including in the last published picture of her. The company’s CEO told the Daily Mail in 2016 that the Queen owned at least 200 of the bags — which each cost around £2,000, according to the Launer website.
As is the case with her famous color-coordinated coats and hats, it’s unclear how much her whole collection is worth and what will happen to her clothes and accessories now.
The royal jewelry collection, meanwhile, is extensive, and includes hundreds of crowns, tiaras, earrings, bracelets, brooches and necklaces covered in gems and diamonds that are worth millions. Some of the items were owned by the Queen privately, including those she inherited from her mother, and others belong to the serving monarch, and so will be passed to King Charles.
From blue chip investments to cars to stamp collections
High-end cars are also among the Queen’s assets – since learning to drive during World War II, she has built up an expansive car collection including custom made Bentleys, vintage Rolls-Royce models, and Jaguars as well as Land Rovers. Together, the vehicles are worth millions, but ownership is again split between the Queen’s private wealth and that of the royal firm or institution.
The situation is similar for the royal art collection, which contains thousands of drawings, paintings, and photographs and the royal stamp collection. The latter, also known as the Royal Philatelic Collection, is reportedly worth as much as £100 million, The Sun reported. Both are traditionally owned by whoever is the sitting monarch, so were not part of the Queen’s private wealth and will now be held by King Charles.
What did, however, contribute to her personal wealth was her stock market investment strategy. British blue chip shares were one of her top picks, according to the Sunday Times, but exact figures are unknown.