Tepilo takes a look at how much property the Queen actually owns.
The Queen – often known as Her Maj, Her Royal Highness or Her Majesty – is the longest-serving monarch in British history and one of the most famous and well-respected figureheads in the world. Her reign began way back in 1952 and, since then, she has seen a number of social changes and sworn in 13 different Prime Ministers.
As well as being Queen of the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, she is also Head of the Commonwealth and still acts as Queen to 12 countries that have become independent from British rule since her accession, including Jamaica, Barbados and the Solomon Islands. She is also President or Royal Patron of more than 600 countries and appears on everything from coins and stamps to commemorative mugs, plates and T-shirts.
But what about the Queen and property? Well, to put it bluntly, she owns lots of it – a £13bn property empire, to be precise.
Most of it is historic property, managed by the Crown Estate. Last month the Crown Estate announced that it had returned a record £328.8 million to the Treasury coffers in 2016, with the value of the overall estate growing to around £13.1bn.
As things stand, the Queen receives 25% of the Crown Estate’s revenues in the form of what is known as a “Sovereign Grant”. This is used to help fund her official work – including state visits and royal engagements – and the maintenance and upkeep of her various residences.
In addition to the property that has traditionally been owned by the monarchy, the Queen also has her own personal property assets, which include some of the grandest properties in Britain.
Her property portfolio is extensive and wide-ranging, including many of the country’s best-known buildings as well as castles seeped in history and luxury hotels.
Time for us to take a closer look…
The Savoy Estate, London
The Queen privately owns an 18,433-hectare estate known as the Duchy of Lancaster, which is administered separately from the Crown Estate. This includes the Savoy Estate, a stretch of the Strand which houses the iconic Savoy Hotel (often viewed as one of the best and most elegant in central London and famous for its afternoon teas) and the Savoy theatre, which is currently showing hit West End musical Dreamgirls.
Yes, the Queen owns the whole of Regent Street, a shopper’s paradise in the heart of London’s West End which is famous for its flagship stores and appearance on the Monopoly board. With more than 7.5 million tourists a year and 20,000 workers employed there, Regent Street was the world’s very first shopping street and is renowned for its Grade II listed facades, contemporary art and retail prowess.
It is home to the offices of Twitter, Apple and Lloyds, as well as iconic toy store Hamleys and a wide range of shops, hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and confectionery shops. The Crown Estate also owns St James’s Market – which combines 200,000 sq ft of office space with world-class bespoke dining opportunities and flagship shopping stores – and prime retail property across the UK, including in Oxford, Swansea, Newcastle and Nottingham.
One of the Queen’s most famous residences, this mammoth 20,000-hectare Scottish estate in Aberdeenshire is where the Queen escapes to each summer, enjoying the visual splendour and grand spectacle of the Highlands. The castle has been the private property of the British monarch since 1852 and is generally considered to be the Queen’s favourite abode, the place where she is at her happiest and most relaxed.
Another of the Queen’s well-known private properties is Sandringham House in Norfolk, an 8,000-hectare estate which was originally bought by Queen Victoria in 1862. The Queen and her husband Prince Philip (aka the Duke of Edinburgh) are known to spend lots of time at this private country residence.
Castles seeped in history
As well as the Savoy Estate, the Duchy of Lancaster also owns around a dozen historic properties, including Pickering Castle in Yorkshire and Lancaster Castle in Lancashire. The annual income of the Duchy is approximately £18 million, paid directly to the ruling monarch.
Speaking of castles, the Queen’s most famous residence outside of Buckingham Palace is Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. For more than 1,000 years, it’s been the family home of British kings and queens and is often praised for its architectural prowess.
A tourist magnet, the 13-acre (5 hectares) royal residence is where the Queen chooses to spend most of her weekends. If she’s in residence, the Royal Standard will be flying from the Castle’s Round Tower. The castle, too, is often used to host state visits.
It’s open to the public (albeit at a price) and is well known for its tours, its family activities, its band concerts and the changing of the guard, which takes place on certain days of the week and lasts for approximately 30 minutes. It’s a tradition that has been carried out since 1660 and draws hordes of camera-happy tourists and visitors each year.
It’s not just about the castle, though, the Crown Estate also owns the whole of the 6,400-hectare Windsor estate, including the glorious Great Park (the only royal park to be managed by the Crown Estate).
The foremost royal residence, Buckingham Palace has acted as the official London residence of “the UK’s sovereigns since 1837”. Today it is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch, as well as being the venue for many official events and receptions held by the Queen. The 775-room palace is also a tourist trap – with the State Rooms open to visitors every summer – and thousands of eager tourists milling around outside the front of Buckingham Palace for a selfie or a chance to see the changing of the guard.
Broken down, the 775 rooms include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. You’d certainly struggle to get caught short!
As well as being the venue for royal events and ceremonies, some 50,000 people visit the palace each year as guests to Garden Parties, state banquets, lunches, dinners and receptions, while the Queen also holds weekly audiences with the sitting Prime Minister.
If all this wasn’t enough, the Crown Estate also owns Royal Ascot, 30 offshore wind farms worth around £1.1 billion, approximately 11 hectares of forestry throughout the UK and around 263,000 acres of farmland, from small hill farms in Wales to mass commercial operations in the east of England.
So, to re-answer the original question posed, she owns plenty – then again, as one of the richest and most famous female figures in the world, did we really expect otherwise?