The United Kingdom’s royal family not only serves as the ceremonial figurehead of the millennia-old British monarchy, but they are also wealthy almost beyond the imagination of most of their subjects. Members of the Windsor family live in luxury in ancient castles, palaces, and manors; fly around the world in private aircraft; and are chauffeured about in automobiles that would be the envy of any collector.
But where does the income to support their lifestyle come from? While British taxpayers foot the bill for some of the royal family’s expenses, the public contribution is a comparatively small part of their revenue stream. Most comes from two investment portfolios in the form of swaths of land and real estate, known as “duchies,” which generate millions in income for the family each year. Further, these duchies have been in place for centuries, according to the websites of the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster, for the specific purpose of providing private income streams for the monarchy.
So, collectively, how much land is contained in these two investment portfolios?
The royal family's land is roughly the size of a Caribbean island
The British royal family’s two duchies are the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster. The Duchy of Lancaster funds the monarch herself (or himself, as the case may be), according to its website, while the Duchy of Cornwall funds the lifestyle of the eldest son of the reigning monarch; in this particular case it belongs to Prince Charles and will pass to Prince William when Charles becomes king.
The Duchy of Lancaster comprises 45,550 acres, while the Duchy of Cornwall contains approximately 135,000 acres. Collectively, the family owns 180,550 acres of land, or roughly 282 square miles. That is roughly the same size as the Caribbean island of Dominica, according to Nations Encyclopedia, or approximately the same size as the city limits of Charlotte, North Carolina, according to the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.
It bears noting that the two duchies are not singular pieces of land. Rather, they’re collective portfolios, containing a mix of rural properties here, urban properties there, and so on, in some cases with different holdings hundreds of miles apart.
What's included in the royal duchies
The list of properties owned by the two duchies reads almost like a dry prospectus that you would read at a financial adviser’s office. For example, according to the Duchy of Cornwall website, its holdings consist of various farms, manors, estates, and other rural holdings across the southwest of England, as well as a few far-flung locales. In the Cornwall case, the vast majority of the land is agricultural, with tenant farmers paying rent to the duchy. One section of the duchy includes 50 houses, four hotels, and various workshops, all of which are rented out for income.
The Duchy of Lancaster is every-so-slightly splashier. Though like its cousin, it consists largely of rural agricultural properties, it also includes a handful of commercial and residential holdings as well as various manors. According to The Independent, the monarch’s private investment portfolio includes a tiny, but lucrative, spot of land in London. Specifically, the portfolio includes the Savoy Estate in downtown London and encompasses the Savoy Hotel, one of the nicest hotels in London, if not in the entire world.
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