By Dr George Venturini
A conga line of bludgers
Living off so much wealth, power and privilege is a long list of freeloaders, which begins with:
The Duke of Edinburgh’s estimated wealth is US$45 million. (A. Langone and J. Calfas, ‘All the members of the British Royal Family, ranked by net worth’, 14 March 2018, updated 22 May 2018).
Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband of 71 years, also enjoys the wealth and perks which come with being a member of the ‘Royal Family’. Under the Sovereign Grant Act of 2011, Prince Philip received an annual Parliamentary annuity of £359,000 pounds “to meet the expenses of carrying out his public duties in support of the Queen.” Those duties included attending public events alongside the Queen and alone, as well as giving speeches. At an event in March 2016 Prince Philip once joked he was the “world’s most expensive plaque-unveiler.”
The Duke of Edinburgh ‘retired’ from his royal position in August 2017 at the age of 96, with the “full support of the Queen”, ‘The Palace’ said in a statement at the time. His ‘retirement’ from the role came after he was admitted to the hospital in the summer of 2017 as a “precautionary measure” due to a pre-existing condition, though Buckingham Palace did not provide specifics for his retirement.
Next comes Prince Charles
Prince Charles must be the longest waiting heir to a throne. The future Charles III, also king of Australia despite the rhetorical exercises of ‘once-republican’ Malcolm Turnbull and ‘sometime republican’ Bill Shorten, is estimated to be worth around US$400 million, according to Wealth-X, the global leader in providing intelligence and market research. Charles, also known as the Prince of Wales, makes most of his money through the Duchy of Cornwall, a private estate which funds the activities of whoever holds the title of Prince of Wales and his family.
Between March 2016 and March 2017, Prince Charles received £16.6 million, or US$22.9 million, from the Duchy of Cornwall, according to the estate’s most recent financial statement. The Duchy of Cornwall has £1 billion, or US$1.3 billion, in total assets. The estate itself owns a vast amount of land and real estate, predominately in southwest England, including cottages, countryside homes, barn conversions, sea-side estates and even some properties available for rent.
The Duchy of Cornwall was established in 1337 by Edward II with the intention of providing an income to the future Princes of Wales. The estate currently funds not only Prince Charles’ expenses but also those of his family, which includes Prince Charles, his wife Camilla, and his sons Prince William and Prince Harry and their wives Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
Once married to the late Princess Diana, mother to both Prince William and Prince Harry, Prince Charles has donated his wealth over the years to charities and aid projects through the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. The organisation has awarded more than £52 million, or US$72.5 million, in grants over the last 10 years, according to the charity’s website. Prince Charles’s charity halved its donations in the most recently reported year, giving £3.1 million, or US$4.3 million, in 2017, compared to £7.7 million, or US$10.7 million, in 2016, according to The Guardian.
One of the most recent beneficiaries of the foundation was Tusk, an organisation founded to challenge poaching in Africa, with which Prince William and Prince Harry worked before.
Then comes Prince William
Prince William and Prince Harry have similar net worth, having both inherited the fortune amassed by their late mother, Princess Diana. Both brothers are believed to be worth somewhere between US$25 and US$40 million, according to Business Insider. (H. Hong, Here’s how much each person in the royal family is actually worth, 1 August 2017).
Each of the two brothers received the inheritance from their mother in a lump sum of approximately £10 million (US$14 million) when they turned 30 years old. They also each started receiving dividends of US$450,000 each year upon turning 25, according to Forbes. (L. Kroll, Just How Rich Are Queen Elizabeth And Her Family?).
William and Harry do not have to pay for official expenses related to their royal duties, such as travel for official visits, staff costs and wardrobe, which are all financed by The Duchy of Cornwall. In 2017 the Duchy reported spending US$4.9 million total to cover the official duties of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan – expenses which are paid in part through the Duchy’s annual revenue.
Prince William, who is second in line to the throne after his father, used to receive an annual salary of US$62,000 for his work as an East Anglian Air Ambulance pilot, that he used to donate to charity, according to CNBC. He retired from his job flying rescue helicopters in mid-2017 to focus more on his royal duties.
Prince Harry’s net worth is similar to his brother’s, in part because they both inherited the same amount of money from Princess Diana’s estate. Harry’s wealth is estimated to be at least US$25 million, according to Wealth-X, though other estimates put Prince Harry’s net worth as high as US$40 million.
Like his brother and sister-in-law, Prince Harry gets to save the majority of his inheritance because The Duchy of Cornwall covers the same expenses. Both Prince Harry and Prince William also inherited Princess Diana’s private jewels, though their value is not known.
Prince Harry served in the Royal Air Force for ten years, working his way up to captain, and receiving about US$53,000 a year, Forbes reported. He retired from service in 2015, saying that he wanted to devote more time to philanthropic work like the Invictus Games, which hosts international adaptive sports competitions for injured veterans.
He wed American actress Meghan Markle in May at Windsor Castle, and experts estimated their wedding cost about as much William and Kate’s 2011 nuptials – around US$34 million, mainly due to the security needed for the high-profile event.
Kate Middleton, who became the Duchess of Cambridge after marrying Prince William in April 2011, also enjoys official royal expenses covered by the Duchy of Cornwall. Kate’s personal net worth is believed to be somewhere around $10 million, Business Insider reported, though the exact number is not known.
Although Kate is the first person outside a royal bloodline to join the royal family, her finances are anything but common. Middleton’s family runs a successful online mail-order party supply store, Party Pieces. Her parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, have been reported to be worth somewhere between US$30 and US$50 million, though the exact amount is not known.
Kate has three children with William – Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, and Prince Louis, who was born on 23 April 2018.
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first two children both already have relatively lavish lives – they attend two of the most impressive, and expensive, preschools in London. Prince George, who is third in line for the throne, attends Thomas’s Battersea – a US$ 24,000-a-year- preschool that is touted as “the best English education money can buy.” Fourth in line for the throne, Princess Charlotte goes to the Willcocks Nursery School, a female-run preschool with a US$14,000-a-year tuition.
Both Prince George and Princess Charlotte are expected to have a large impact on the British economy, according to branding valuation company Brand Finance. Princess Charlotte is expected to have inspired US$5 billion in economic activity while Prince George is expected to generate US$3.6 billion, according to Brand Finance. Prince Louis is expected to generate a bit less than his older siblings, somewhere between US$70-125 million within the first few weeks of his life, according to U.K-based research firms.
Meghan Markle, who became the Duchess of Sussex after marrying Prince Harry this year, may have the smallest bank account of her new ‘Royal Family’, but she has still done well for herself with an estimated net worth of US$5 million.
Most of Meghan’s net worth comes from her acting career before her 2017 engagement to Prince Harry.
Meghan’s expenses related to all official royal business, including wardrobe, are paid for by the Duchy of Cornwall.
Despite only being married in May, Meghan has already joined Prince Harry for numerous royal engagements and begun her official royal duties. She has said she wants to dive into charity work through the Royal Foundation, having previously worked on United Nations campaigns for women’s rights. (‘All the Members of the British Royal Family, Royal Family Net Worth: Everything We Know About Their …’, 22 May 2018).
* * * * *
The ‘Royal Family’ proper is followed by a long coterie. Their predecessors in the early part of last century would proudly call themselves: the ‘corrupt coterie’.
Prominent amongst them is:
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
He has an estimated wealth of US$75 million (as at July 2018). The Prince draws his wealth from a trust fund set up for him when he was still a child, plus substantial investments on businesses and properties. The Prince also receives an annual personal allowance from the Queen in addition to the fixed 249,000 pounds-a-year annuity – about US$415,000 – he receives to cover costs such as staff salaries, that the Queen also pays.
He could be the most corrupt of the Windsor-Battenberg, some facets dealing with Andrew’s moral character, others – much more important – with his occupation in the scale of ‘The Firm’.
In March 2011 there were accusations of Andrew having established an unsavoury relationship with one Jeffrey Epstein, an American with a conviction in the United States for soliciting an under-age girl for prostitution. Despite assertion by The Palace that the relationship had been severed, there followed a case in Florida, which was concluded only the decision of the American judge who, in April 2015, ruled that the “sex allegations made against Prince Andrew in court papers filed in Florida must be struck from the public record.” Among such papers were pictures of Andrew in intimate congress with the under-age. One should notice here that the judge made no ruling as to whether claims by under-age girl were true or false. The relationship with Epstein continued, supported occasionally by the presence of ‘illustrious personalities’ such as a former English prime minister and a well-known American professor of law. An English journalist would ask: “What was the prince doing, in the first place, with Epstein, a paedophile who was jailed in 2008 for soliciting young girls for under-age prostitution?” (P. Oborne, ‘It was all going so well for the Royal Family’, The (London) Daily Telegraph, 5 January 2015).
There was more than a mention with some familiarity with English vice and sadopaideia – from “the pleasant paths of masochism to the supreme joys of sadism” in ‘literary’ terms, but let it pass.
More important is the reputation gained by Andrew as a businessman.
As the United Kingdom’s Special Trade Representative, the Duke of York travelled the world to promote British businesses. It was revealed in the United States diplomatic cables leak – widely known as Cablegate – that the Duke had been reported on by Tatiana C. Gfoeller-Volkoff , the United States Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Kyrgyzstan, discussing bribery in Kyrgyzstan and the investigation into the Al-Yamamah arms deal. One will return to this important point in reference to Prince Charles. Prince Andrew, the Ambassador explained, “was referencing an investigation, subsequently closed, into alleged kickbacks a senior Saudi royal had received in exchange for the multi-year, lucrative BAE Systems plc contract to provide equipment and training to Saudi security forces.” BAE Systems plc is a British multinational defence, security, and aerospace corporation. Its headquarters are in London and it has operations worldwide. It is among the world’s largest defence companies; it was ranked as the third-largest based on applicable 2015 revenues. One will return to that, too. Gfoeller-Volkoff’s dispatch continued: “His mother’s subjects seated around the table roared their approval. He then went on to ‘these (expletive) journalists, especially from the National Guardian [sic], who poke their noses everywhere’ and (presumably) make it harder for British businessmen to do business. The crowd practically clapped!”
Earlier in 2010 it was revealed that the Kazakhstan President’s billionaire son-in-law Timur Kulibayev paid the Duke of York’s representatives £15 million – £3 million over the asking price – through offshore companies, for the Duke’s Surrey mansion, Sunninghill Park. Kulibayev frequently appears in United States dispatches as one of the men who have accumulated millions in gas-rich Kazakhstan. (D. Leigh, R. Evans and H. Brooke, ‘WikiLeaks cables: ‘Rude’ Prince Andrew shock US ambassador’, The (London) Guardian, 29 November 2010).
In May 2012 it was reported that Swiss and Italian police investigating “a network of personal and business relationships” allegedly used for ‘international corruption’ were looking at the activities of Enviro Pacific Investments which charges “multi-million-pound fees” to energy companies wishing to deal with Kazakhstan.
The trust is believed to have paid £6 million towards the purchase of Sunninghill which now appears derelict. In response, a Palace spokesman said “This was a private sale between two trusts. There was never any impropriety on the part of The Duke of York.” (J. Lewis, ‘Money laundering probe puts spotlight on the £15 million sale of the Duke of York’s home’, The (London) Sunday Telegraph, 26 May 2012).
On 5 January 2015 The Guardian asserted: “Prince Andrew dazzles easily when confronted with immense wealth and apparent power. He has fallen for ‘friendships’ with bad, corrupt and clever men, not only in the US but in Libya, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tunisia, wherever.” (R. Greenslade, ‘Prince Andrew story runs and runs – but editors should beware’, The Guardian, 5 January 2015).
In May 2016 a fresh controversy broke out when the Daily Mail alleged that the Duke had brokered a deal to assist a Greek and Swiss consortium secure a £385 million contract to build water and sewerage networks in two of Kazakhstan’s largest cities, while working as British trade envoy, and had stood to gain a £4 million payment in commission. (G. Adams, ‘Andrew and ‘a £4m kickback’: Duke brokered £385m deal for Greek firm and corrupt regime while acting as British trade envoy… So is that how he paid for his £13m ski chalet?’, Daily Mail, 21 May 2016).
The newspaper published an email from the Duke to Kazakh oligarch Kenges Rakishev, (who had allegedly brokered sale of the Prince’s Berkshire mansion Sunninghill Park), and claimed that Rakishev had arranged meetings for the consortium. After initially claiming the email was a forgery, ‘The Palace’ sought to block its publication as a privacy breach. ‘The Palace’ strongly denied the allegation that the Duke had acted as a ‘fixer’ calling the article “untrue, defamatory and a breach of the editor’s code of conduct.” But a former Foreign Office minister, M.P. Chris Bryant stated: “When I was at the Foreign Office it was very difficult to see in whose interests he [the Duke] was acting. He doesn’t exactly add lustre to the Royal diadem.” (P. Sawer, ‘Prince Andrew brokered £385m deal with Kazakh regime while working as British trade envoy’, Daily Telegraph, 21 May 2016).
There were calls for an official enquiry, the head of campaign group Republic saying “this appears to represent abuse of Andrew’s position as trade envoy.” (C. Tominey, ‘Prince Andrew ‘acted as a £4m fixer’ ’, Sunday Express, 22 May 2016).
Nothing came of it!
As of November 2014 Prince Andrew had met Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, on 12 separate occasions. He had to stand down as a trade envoy for the UK in 2011 following controversy over his friendship with Aliyev, who has been criticised for corruption and for abuses of human rights by Amnesty International. Yet, since standing down, Prince Andrew has but he has continued to visit Aliyev in Azerbaijan. (J. Armitage, ‘Duke of York to meet Azeri despot Ilham Aliyev for 12th time’, The (London) Independent, 12 November 2014).
Stay tuned! (Transparency International, Law enforcement, 1 October 2018, ‘The Azerbaijani Laundromat one year on: has justice been served?’)
More importantly, Prince Andrew has been involved in arms sales. In March 2011 Ms. Kaye Stearman of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade told Channel 4 News that C.A.A.T. sees Prince Andrew as part of a bigger problem: “He is the front man for U.K.T.I. Our concerns are not just Prince Andrew, it’s the whole U.K.T.I. set up. They see arms as just another commodity, but it has completely disproportionate resources. At the London office of U.K.T.I. the arms sector has more staff than all the others put together. We are concerned that Prince Andrew is used to sell arms, and where you sell arms it is likely to be to despotic regimes. He is the cheerleader in chief for the arms industry, shaking hands and paving the way for the salesmen.”(‘Prince Andrew: ‘Cheerleader in chief for the arms industry’ ’, Channel 4 News, 10 March 2011).
In January 2014 Prince Andrew took part in a delegation to Bahrain. The spokesman for C.A.A.T., Andrew Smith said: “We are calling on Prince Andrew and the U.K. government to stop selling arms to Bahrain. By endorsing the Bahraini dictatorship Prince Andrew is giving his implicit support to their oppressive practices. When our government sells arms it is giving moral and practical support to an illegitimate and authoritarian regime and directly supporting their systematic crackdown on opposition groups. (…) We shouldn’t allow our international image to be used as a PR tool for the violent and oppressive dictatorship in Bahrain.”(‘Campaigners call for UK to halt arms exports to Bahrain as Prince Andrew joins sales drive’, Campaign Against Arms Trade, 15 January 2014).
Andrew Smith has also said: “The prince has consistently used his position to promote arms sales and boost some of the most unpleasant governments in the world, his arms sales haven’t just given military support to corrupt and repressive regimes. They’ve lent those regimes political and international legitimacy.” ( ‘What Scandal Involving Prince Andrew Says – Al Jazeera America’, 19 April 2016).
Prince Andrew has two daughters.
Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie
Prince Andrew’s daughters became instant millionaires in 1996, after their parents’ divorce settlement awarded them with roughly US$3 million trust fund. In 1994 the Queen Mother established a US$3 million trust fund for each of the sisters. They presently hold an estimated wealth of US$15 million each (as at 2015).
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
has an estimated wealth of at US$45 million (as at 2015). A failed entrepreneur, the Prince receives US$235,000 from the Queen and his and his wife wealth is drawn primarily from their home, Edward’s trust funds and valuable furnishings in Bagshot, their official residence, much of which were received as wedding presents.
Anne, Princess Royal
has an estimated wealth of US$30 million (as at 2015). The most frugal of the Queen’s children, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, is the beneficiary of a trust fund set up by her grandfather, George VI, added to by the Queen and Prince Philip and reported to be worth around 2 million pounds when she was still a child. The Princess’ wealth also came from valuable gifts she received during her wedding to Captain Mark Phillips, including fabulous jewellery, valued at US$1 million in 1976. The biggest present was her home, Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire, bought for her by the Queen and now worth about US$15 million and she has jewellery worth US$7 million. The Princess also receives roughly US$380,000 in annuity to cover the cost of her official duties.
There follows a rather lengthy line of parasites. As A. C. Grayling observed: “…it takes a large lack of self-respect to be a parasite.” (A. C. Grayling, The challenge of things – Thinking through trouble times, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 2015 at 162).
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
He has an estimated wealth of US$25 million. The Duke receives nearly US$300,000 a year from the Queen to cover his Royal expenses and staff and pulls in US$100,000 from the tenants of Barnwell Manor.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
He holds an estimated wealth of US$10-15 million. He claims to be the poorest among the Royals, at least by their standard, although he and his family are still worth at least US$ 10 million, not to mention the privileges accorded to being a Royal, including gifts, free holidays, grace-and-favour housing and free travel on official duties. The Duke also receives almost US$400,000 a year for carrying out official Royal duties, as well as a small Army pension. The family’s wealth was tied to jewelleries, estimated at US$14 million. In 2006 the Duke and his siblings, Prince Michael and Princess Alexandra, enjoyed a windfall after making US$3.5 million from the auction of some family heirlooms.
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent
They have an estimated wealth of US$8-10 million. Known as the ‘Rent-a-Kent’ for their numerous commercial ventures – often verging on a questionable character, the couple are the only members of the Royal Family who do not receive money from the Queen and do not perform any official royal duties.
Princess Michael of Kent – in full: Baroness Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida; née von Reibnitz; born 15 January 1945) is a member of the British Royal Family with German and Hungarian roots. Her father Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz (Freiherr) must have felt quite at home with the Battenberg: he was a Nazi party member serving as a Sturmbannführer (Major) in the SS during the second world war.
Freiin von Reibnitz is married to Prince Michael of Kent, who is a grandson of King George V. The Prince earns his keep from his own consultancy firm, Cantium Services, which, after several years of losses, posted profits worth US$ 100,000. The company is currently valued at US$ 500,000. The Princess, meanwhile, earns more by writing books, providing lectures and running her own interior design company, Szapar Designs. After being forced to pay or vacate their grace-and-favour apartment at Kensington Palace, the couple, who were crying poverty, sold their Gloucestershire country home for nearly US$10 million, while the US$3.5 million-sale of their parents’ personal effects provided some extra cash.
She is worth an estimate US$18-20 million. Princess Alexandra derives much of her wealth from the inheritance she received from her husband, Sir Angus Ogilvy, who was a shrewd businessman until the Lonrho Affair forced him out from several corporate directorships. The Princess receives US$375,000 a year to pay for her official expenses. She also owns heirlooms, an art collection worth $6 million, and magnificent jewelries estimated at US$15 million.
Continued Wednesday – A conga line of bludgers (part 2)
Previous instalment – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 17)
Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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