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Here’s How Much the British Royal Family May Cost the U.K. Each Year

And an estimate of the monarchy's economic benefit to the country too.

King Charles III Getty Images

This week, the U.K. officially gets a new monarch with the coronation of King Charles III, and the price tag for that ceremony is an estimated $125 million. But after all that pomp and circumstance has subsided, how much does the royal family cost U.K. taxpayers each year to maintain?

It’s far from an exact science to try to nail down how expensive the monarchy is annually, but Insider has tried to do just that, while also analyzing the economic benefit the royal family generates each year for Britain.

The royal family’s expenses are covered under the Sovereign Grant and the latest official figures put that at £86 million ($106 million), or about $1.60 from every U.K. citizen. Think of the Grant as the government’s allowance to the royal family, helping them keep up their lavish lifestyle, pay their staff, and maintain their properties, like Buckingham Palace. However, all that real estate the monarchy owns—from castles, to off-shore wind farms, to shopping malls—are independently operated with the profits going to the government. In 2021, the businesses under the family’s largest holdings, called the Crown Estate, brought in £312.7 million ($360.6 million) in profit. The Sovereign Grant is paid out from a portion of those proceeds.

This arrangement dates back to 1760 when King George III hashed out an agreement with Parliament where the Crown Estate’s profits go to the government in exchange for the government paying the royal family a salary.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 05: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Queen Elizabeth II stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Platinum Pageant on June 5, 2022 in London, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 5, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
The Sovereign Warrant funds the monarchy’s lifestyle for centuries. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

That sounds like a win for government, netting more from royal properties than it doles back out to the family. But critics argue the Sovereign Grant doesn’t tell the whole story, as security for the family is paid for separately by taxpayers and that amount is not disclosed. Republic, a group that lobbies to have an elected head of state instead of a monarch, estimates the true annual cost of the royal family is £345 million pounds ($431 million).

“It costs, even according to the palace’s own figures, twice as much as any other monarchy in Europe,” a former member of Parliament, Norman Baker, told Al Jazeera.

However, supporters of the crown argue there’s great value to keeping the royal family around, because of the tourism revenue they generate. “There’s lots of evidence that the monarchy generates its wealth,” says David Haigh, the CEO of U.K.-based consulting firm Brand Finance. “Something in the order £800 million a year is generated every year incrementally to U.K. tourism because people specifically come here because they want to see royal events.” Haigh also asserts there are benefits beyond just tourism, totaling an estimated £2 billion annually in, as he calls it, “economic uplift.”

The founder of Republic, Graham Smith, argues that the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the scandal surrounding Prince Andrew, and the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, have all devalued the monarchy. But despite his group’s protestations and no matter how expensive or lucrative the royal family are for the U.K. taxpayer, the monarchy looks like its here to stay.

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