Highlights

  • Queen Elizabeth II's private wealth value to remain private
  • Major source of a British sovereign’s personal money is the Duchy of Lancaster
  • Her personal wealth estimated by Forbes in 2017 was worth around USD 500 million

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Here’s why Queen Elizabeth II’s wealth and will remain secret even after death

During a legal battle over the will of Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, a court was told “primary reason and purpose of sealing royal wills is to protect the privacy of the sovereign," as per the PTI report.

Britain’s longest reigning monarch late Queen Elizabeth II, owner of the most exquisite collection including tiaras, crowns, expensive art work and palaces breathed her last on Sept 8. Amid speculations around the late Queen's wealth, it looks like the actual value of her wealth shall remain a secret for a long time. The will specifying how her wealth should be distributed will also be kept private.

Here’s why the Queen's estimated wealth and will can not be made public.

Firstly, the wills of the sovereign, along with other members of the royal family have never been made public historically

Although, Queen Elizabeth's wealth was calculated at 340 million pounds in 2015 by the ‘The Sunday Times Rich List’, with the major source of a British sovereign’s personal money being the Duchy of Lancaster.

It is the sovereign’s private estate, existing purely to give the reigning monarch an income: in the financial year ending March 31 it was valued at about 652 million pounds and generated a net surplus of 24 million pounds, the PTI report said.

According to news agency PTI, the British monarchy as a brand was valued at around USD 88 billion in 2017 by valuation consultancy firm Brand Finance, with Queen Elizabeth’s personal wealth from investments, art, jewels and real estate estimated by Forbes to be worth around USD 500 million.

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However, according to The Times report, it is believed that the sovereign’s private estate would not even appear in the Queen’s will as it is an inalienable asset of the Crown which will be simply passed from sovereign to sovereign.

Importantly, no inheritance tax is liable on the Queen’s personal wealth due to a deal struck in 1993 with the then John Major-led government. As a part of the deal the Queen agreed for the first time to pay income tax, but it was stipulated that sovereign-to-sovereign bequests would be exempt from inheritance tax.

The Treasury Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation, written in 2013, states: “The reasons for not taxing assets passing to the next sovereign are that private assets such as Sandringham and Balmoral have official as well as private use and that the monarchy as an institution needs sufficient private resources to enable it to continue to perform its traditional role in national life, and to have a degree of financial independence from the government of the day."

During a legal battle over the will of Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, a court was told “primary reason and purpose of sealing royal wills is to protect the privacy of the sovereign," as per the PTI report.

Besides, since the late monarch was the source of legal authority – her will does not have to be published like others. Also, many sources of the Queen’s wealth do not fall in the category of her private property but are held in trust for future generations and will simply pass over to the next sovereign, now– King Charles III.

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