It’s been two months since King Charles and Queen Camilla were officially crowned at Westminster Abbey. The royal couple have continued their duties as usual, and are now set to undergo a second coronation in Scotland.
When Queen Elizabeth II passed away, King Charles was expected to begin modernizing the Royal Family in several ways. The former Prince of Wales has already started the process of clearing and moving several of his mother’s beloved belongings – not long after the Queen’s death, reports of many of Charles’ staff members at Clarence House being laid off came to light.
Many criticized Charles and Camilla for their treatment of the loyal staff members. Now, they’re coming under fire once again after it was revealed how much their respective top two staff members make…
King Charles’s coronation on May 6 became one of the most prominent royal events in decades. The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was naturally huge, but this time the event in question was filled with joy as opposed to sorrow.
An average of 18 million viewers watched the coronation, with a staggering 32.5 million viewers in total turning in for the BBC’s coverage.
While many agree that a coronation is a historical, no-expenses-spared event to be celebrated, others argue that the monarchy no longer warrants its place in modern society.
How much is the royal family worth?
British media outlets speculated that the coronation cost around $120 million, though neither Downing Street nor Buckingham Palace has confirmed the exact cost.
So, what did the public think of the coronation being so expensive? According to a YouGov survey, more than 50% agreed that the royals should fund the coronation themselves. That number was hardly helped after a recent investigation by The Guardian newspaper placed King Charles’s fortune at a staggering £1.8 billion (around $2.2 billion).
The total sum for the coronation was said to be double that of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953. One main increase was the costs attributed to the heightened security.
As a result, security at the coronation was extremely tight. The streets along the route from Buckingham Palace were packed with people, and over the weekend, many other events were held to celebrate Charles’s ascension to the throne.
Now, it should go without saying that the Royal Family is worth billions. Many might think they have gold stacked in some huge vault under Buckingham Palace, but the majority of their wealth is tied up in real estate and other assets.
The family members themselves have limited control over their fortune since The Crown Estate runs it. It’s also referred to as Monarchy PLC, a corporation that controls all of the lands and holdings of the British monarch and is run by an independent council on behalf of the monarchy.
Technically, they own all the land of Northern Ireland, Wales, and England as it belongs to The Crown Estate. In 2016, Scotland created their own Crown Estate, which is operated as a public corporation on behalf of the Scottish government.
King Charles’s inheritance from Queen Elizabeth II
So what exactly are some of their beloved castles and residences worth?
Buckingham Palace has been the home of the Royal Family since the 1840s. It’s been described as their most luxurious and beloved residence, valued at around 1 billion pounds. However, as Forbes reported in 2016, a Czech Republic real estate agent valued the 775-room palace at several billions of pounds. The agent, Lenka Duskova, a historic building expert, says the royals couldn’t even sell it even if they’d like to.
Moreover, their Sandringham House, located in Norfolk, England, is valued at $65 million, while Balmoral Castle, the late Queen Elizabeth’s favorite summer residence, is worth at least $140 million.
When Elizabeth passed away, King Charles inherited plenty. But as Laura Clancy, author of Running the Family Firm: How the Monarchy Manages Its Image and Our Money, states: “No one knows” how rich the king himself is.
According to Forbes, Charles inherited around $50 million when the queen died, including Balmoral Castle and plenty of her jewelry and art. Moreover, he inherited her investments, “like any wealthy mom who might pass stuff on to a son, things that she owns,” Clancy described.
Though Charles now owns some of the royal estates, he’s reportedly prevented by law from selling them for personal gain. Why? Well, because the wealth is supposed to remain within the Royal Family for future generations’ inheritance.
Every year, the Royal Family gets public funding through taxpayers’ money, known as The Sovereign Grant. It is supposed to cover the royal’s official duties and is the only public funding they receive.
The Sovereign Grant is calculated as 15 percent of The Crown Estate’s revenue. For 2022/2023, the annual payment was £86 million, around $109 million.
Monarchy getting taxpayers money – pros and cons
The question regarding the amount of money the Royal Family receives from taxpayers annually is usually part of the arguments as to why some want to abolish the monarchy for good. Others feel differently, arguing that the monarchy is of cultural and historical significance in Britain and abroad and boosts national unity.
When Queen Elizabeth passed away, a new debate arose about the British monarchy’s relevance. For example, as Newsweek reported in a 2021 YouGov study, 41 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds preferred the idea of an elected head of state to a monarch.
In a piece for Time Magazine in 2018, Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, a group that advocates for abolishing the British monarchy, wrote that the royals spend the money on unnecessary things.
“Even if it were true that the royals represent an investment by the British people, why should the royals spend taxpayers’ money with no checks and balances? That, after all, is why the monarchy costs so much—not because it’s expensive to run the office of head of state, but because the royals spend tens of millions of pounds on their palatial apartments, security, and luxury vacations,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace has, of course, a different take.
“The monarchy has sometimes been described as an expensive institution, with royal finances shrouded in confusion and secrecy. In reality, the royal household is committed to ensuring that public money is spent as wisely and efficiently as possible and to making royal finances as transparent and comprehensible as possible,” the Royal Family website, regarding the institution’s finances, states.
King Charles’s plan to cut down royal costs
King Charles was officially declared king just days after Queen Elizabeth’s passing. Thereafter he took on many new duties, but an unfortunate by-product of that meant cutting down on particular charitable work.
Charles and Camilla have lived at Clarence House for nearly 20 years, and have continued to do so in the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death. The pair have been rumored to be aiming to modernize the monarchy in many ways, including slimming down the number of working royals to cut costs and opening up areas of Buckingham Palace for the public to give them a more intimate relationship with the monarchy as a whole.
Of course, one way to cut costs is often reducing the workforce, a decision Charles and Camila reportedly took just days after Queen Elizabeth passed away.
During the church service for the Queen on September 12, many of King Charles’ employees were said to have been handed a redundancy notice – and told that they could lose their jobs.
As revealed by The Guardian, a dozen Clarence House staff members were notified of redundancy as King Charles and the Queen Consort moved their offices to Buckingham Palace.
In total, up to 100 employees at the king’s formal official residence – some of whom have worked there for decades – received word that they might lose their jobs. When staff was handed the notice, they were “working round the clock” to make King Charles’ elevation to the throne “smooth.”
The different staff departments include private secretaries, the communications team, household staff, and the finance office.
King Charles & Queen Camilla criticized as top staff salaries are revealed
Many staff reportedly believed they would move on to work for King Charles in his new household.
“Everybody is livid, including private secretaries and the senior team. All the staff have been working late every night since Thursday, to be met with this. People were visibly shaken by it,” one source told the newspaper.
The workers were unhappy about it, not least because of the timing of the letter being sent out. Loyal aides said the notice – sent by mail and written by Charles’ private secretary Sir Clive Alderton – was flat-out “heartless” as they were mourning Queen Elizabeth II.
An insider told The Sun: “The staff are furious. They’re working round the clock and under huge amounts of pressure and then get these emails. There has been anger, outrage, and tears. They are working flat out largely motivated by the devotion they have for Charles and the Queen.”
Exactly how many staff members had to leave has not been disclosed. It remains clear, however, that the king and queen have plenty of staff left.
The top two staff members, King Charles’ private secretary Sir Clive Alderton and Queen Camilla’s private secretary, Ms. Sophie Densham, have been with the couple for years, and it was widely known that both earn quite a vast amount of money for their services. Even so, following the annual Sovereign Grant Report being disclosed, other staff members are reportedly furious.
The latest report states that Alderton is paid between £205,000 and £210,000 – $260,000 and $266,000.
Meanwhile, Sophie Densham only receives somewhere between £90,000 and £95,000 – $114,000 to $120,000 – yearly from the taxpayer-funded account.
“I’m shocked by the disparity, and I’m astonished by Sophie’s salary — that is a kick in the teeth. She is a real grafter, and hers is a massive, bloody busy job,” a former senior courtier told The Times.
A Palace official added. “Her [Densham] remuneration package is set to a comparable position of the private secretary to the late Duke of Edinburgh.”
The Times reported that Densham is always by Queen Camilla’s side while on official engagements. Meanwhile, Alderton is described as one that only attends King Charles’ “most high-profile outings.”
The report also states that he has been provided with housing for the “better performance” of his duties. Reportedly, he lives at Marlborough House, a short walk from his office at Buckingham Palace.
“Whether you think there’s a disparity in the pay because of their sex rather than their seniority, there is a question there,” a royal source said. “Sophie is known as being a very capable and dedicated support to the Queen.”
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