Indeed, public pressure on the Windsor’s has meant a number of modifications. As part of a clever PR ploy, they now pay taxes on properties for example.
Despite mostly good PR and a love/hate relationship with the tabloid’s, in much of the public’s eye they increasingly serve little more than to titillate those members of society with pretty much nothing better to do than be spooked out by creepy looking Newsweek photo-shopped pictures of the late Spencer with Kate Middleton (1).
A Guardian poll, on the 25th of April 2011, showed that while 63 percent of people were still in support of the monarchy, only 37 percent said they were excited about the imminent royal wedding of Diana’s son William, and that is even with the extremely popular Middleton hanging around (2).
It was widely reported that unemployed volunteers slept under a bridge in anticipation of being stewards for the Queens 60th jubilee celebrations. This certainly took some of the sheen off the ceremony, paid for by public finances.
Britain is still reeling from the excesses of the credit crisis (3). It was only the Royals savvy use of the media during the Olympics that drowned out criticism of the jubilee budget.
However, all of this is something of a façade. In the previous episode, I briefly discussed that the Royals value to the public is largely irrelevant. British corporations benefit from the Royal “brand” in International trade.
The pay-off for the Royals is that they get shares and kickbacks, which they are ill at ease discussing.
The Royal Brand
A recent study by Brand Finance estimates that the Royal brand has a net worth of some 44.5 billion GBP/70 billion USD. Yet this hefty figure comes from adding their intangible worth, which includes assets like the crown jewels and properties that are no longer owned outright by the Royals, but by the British government.
Henceforth, it is their tangible assets which supposedly give a more realistic figure of the Royal fortune. These tangibles sit at around some 18 billion GBP/28 billion USD. Nonetheless, folks, this is actual value of these assets as Brand Finance clearly stated.
Practically all of this wealth is locked in trusts with the British Government. Namely, while it is not exactly accessible, the Royals could not sell them off even if they wanted to (4).
However, the Royals’ personal monies are another matter entirely. Their lack of transparency has caused much consternation in the British Labour Party (5).
There is also a report by Robert Verkaik on the 28th of June 2002, in the Independent, entitled (6) “First look at royal finances fails to satisfy MPs” which discussed the fact that the National Audit Office cannot examine the Queen’s finances.
This is where researchers scratch their heads, and the likes of David Icke, Alex Jones and Lyndon LaRouche go utterly insane with all manner of trite theorems. In an odd way, I sympathize with the latter. Lacking their imagination, this was by far the most frustrating part of the entire essay.
To get an estimation of how the Royal finances really work, I suggest anybody read an excellent article for beginners from CNBC entitled “Royal Family Wealth: Who is the Richest?” Circa April 2011 (7).
Adding to this Tatiana Serafin, of Forbes Magazine estimated the Queen’s net wealth somewhere near 450 million dollars. Yet that only ranks her about 12th, as of 2010, in the international royal rich list (8).
If we compare her fortune to the wealthiest people in Britain, the Queen does not even make the top 100. In 2005, she still lagged behind Mohammed Al Fayed (as Keith Allen was proud to point out in his documentary ‘You’re Fayed’ on Channel 4) and still does today.
The combined wealth of the Royal family is very hard to judge as each major Royal family member has their own fiefdoms and endorsements. According to CNBC, Prince Charles appears to be the wealthiest and has a billion dollar property portfolio from which he draws an estimated 133 Million GBP/210 million US dollars (9). Their combined wealth is still well below the fortunes of other Royal families and is still paltry to Britain’s movers and shakers (10).
At least that is what the mainstream press say. In the next installment, we ask the question “Do the Royals Launder Money?”
While improper for some, and high conspiracy fantasy for others. It is, in fact, a historical reality and while scandalous, is nothing spectacular yet still highly interesting.
References & Image Credits:
(1) Royal Blog
(3) Guardian: Jubilee
(4) Brand Finance
(5) Guardian: Politics Jubilee
(9) The Richest