Is being royal worth it?

  • Life without financial worry

    Each year the Royal family are given a Sovereign Grant. This is used to pay for the family's travel, palace upkeep and utilities, and paying royal staff. In 2016-17, this was £42.8 million. Some of this comes from tax money paid by the general public. Last year this amounted to about 65p per person in the UK. Additionally, the royal family gain some private income. The Queen herself has something called the ‘Privy Purse’ which is a collection of money that mostly comes from her private estate, the Duchy of Lancaster. Every British sovereign (King or Queen) is titled the Duke of Lancaster and has ownership of the 18,433 hectares of land and residential, commercial, and agricultural properties that form the Duchy of Lancaster. In 2017, this generated £19.2 million and every year it covers the expenses not covered by the Sovereign Grant. The Queen isn’t the only royal with private income. Prince Charles is the Duke of Cornwall and owns the Duchy of Cornwall, another private estate. Prince Charles gets a bit more from his estate than the Queen does, around £34 million. However, this does have to cover the expenses of his heirs too, so Harry, William and Kate, and George and Charlotte are all well looked after! It’s a pretty nice life for them, but it can be argued that they help out the rest of the UK too. Each member of the royal family has a net monetary worth, based on their own property and income and how much value they provide to the UK economy. Even though Princess Charlotte hasn’t received any inheritance, she’s already worth £3.2 billion! Because she has potential to drive billions in UK sales, particularly in fashion products, her net worth is sky high. Described as the "Charlotte effect," this phenomena led to a yellow pastel patterned cardigan worn by the princess to sell out in just 24 hours. 

  • Always in the public eye

    As much as they might try to lead a private life, the royal family are always in the spotlight. In 2015, when Prince George was just 2 years old, the palace had to release a statement asking for paparazzi to refrain from taking and publishing unauthorised photos of the young prince. They said there had been “an increasing number of incidents of paparazzi harassment of Prince George” and that the methods were becoming “increasingly dangerous.” The potential damage caused by constant pursuit from paparazzi has devastated the royal family before. In 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris. Many blame the paparazzi that were following the car on motorcycles, desperate to get a photograph of the princess. Since her death, laws protecting people from harassment and codes of practice for news editors have been strengthened, particularly to protect children. From January 1998, the use of long-lens photography “to take pictures of people in private places without their consent” was considered “unacceptable”. However, this hasn’t fixed the problem. While the royals are able to take legal action against photographers and news outlets who publish unauthorised photos, the damage is already done. There have been cases where paparazzi have waited outside children’s play areas to get a snap of Prince George. How do you think it would feel to grow up with people always trying to capture and publish photos of your private life? And in the age of social media, do you think our expectations of privacy should change? Hmm, there’s a lot to consider…

  • Glamourous events and worldwide jet-setting

    Between them, the royal family carry out thousands of royal engagements every year. These activities including hosting heads of state, throwing parties at various palaces, and making official visits around the world. By her 90th birthday, the Queen had made 271 foreign trips to more than 120 countries, including members of the Commonwealth like Canada and Australia, as well as far-flung places like Nepal and Botswana. Back on home soil, members of the royal family attend many events for charity. The Queen herself is a patron (official supporter) of over 600 charities, and about 3,000 charities list a member of the royal family as a patron. These include schools, universities, hospitals, social clubs, sports and arts associations, and children's charities. Royals might attend openings of new hospital buildings or youth clubs, or host charity galas to raise money. The royal family also celebrate lots of the same events that we do, only with a little more extravagance! Christmas festivities are held at the Queen's grand country home, the 20,000-acre Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk. For New Year’s Eve, some royals jet off around the globe, while others opt for exclusive house parties. Birthdays can also be a lavish affair - the Queen even gets two of them! For her 90th birthday, the Queen celebrated her love of horses with 900 horses and over 1,500 guests enjoyed a spectacular programme of music, song, dance and equestrian displays. Summer is also a time of celebration at Buckingham Palace, with three huge annual garden parties. These events recognise those in public service — so guests include people from charities, organisations, and the civil service. At each party, the 8,000 guests are served 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches, and 20,000 slices of cake!

  • Living a ‘normal’ lifestyle

    Not every child gets a 41 gun salute when they’re born, or receives gifts from 64 countries for their first birthday but is growing up royal a blessing or a curse? There is certainly a lot of public scrutiny on Prince George and Princess Charlotte, who often find themselves in the press. One newspaper reported the headline “Grumpy Prince George throws a royal strop” - most of us wouldn’t like to have our every childhood tantrum or upset reported to the world! And there’s also not much freedom to do what you want. One story from when William and Harry were children reports that William told his late mother, Princess Diana, that he wanted to be a policeman when he grew up. To this, Harry responded “Oh no, you can’t, you’ve got to be king!” Prince George has an almost certain future as King, which doesn’t really allow for pursuing other careers. Would you be happy with all the benefits of being royal if you couldn’t pick your job? It seems it’s quite difficult to lead a ‘normal’ life as a royal, so you might be surprised to find that they have to deal with many of life’s difficulties just like the rest of us. In 2016, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry started the ‘Heads Together’ campaign to raise awareness and end stigma around mental health. Prince Harry has now spoken openly about how shutting down his emotions after the death of his mother affected his mental health. The royals are using their platform to show that anyone can suffer from mental health issues, and that it’s important to open up and speak about them. Do you think being in the public eye could make dealing with tragedy and mental health even more challenging? 

  • Making the rules

    Historically, the King or Queen had a lot of power to make or break rules. Henry VIII, unhappy that his first wife could not give him a male heir, broke away from the Catholic church and established himself as the head of the Church of England so he could annul (declare invalid) his marriage. Pretty extreme! Being royal also comes with other benefits, Queen Elizabeth is the only person in the UK who can drive without a license or number plates on her vehicle! However, she did take driving instruction when she was 18 (before she became Queen) in order to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service. This was the women’s branch of the British army during the Second World War, and Princess Elizabeth’s role included driving and maintaining trucks. She also doesn’t need a passport – as they’re issued in her name!

  • A gory end

    Throughout royal history, many Kings and Queens have suffered grim and gruesome deaths. As the most powerful person in the country, there was no shortage of people plotting your demise. Perhaps one of the most famous royal deaths is that of King Harold, who (according to the Bayeux tapestry) was shot in the eye by an arrow during the Battle of Hastings. Some historians think he may actually have been struck down by an enemy knight, or hit by an arrow and then beaten. Either way – not a pleasant end! It also wasn’t unusual for monarchs to face execution. Lady Jane Grey and King Charles I were beheaded for high treason and Mary Queen of Scots was executed for plotting against her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Being associated to the King or Queen could also be pretty dangerous. Two of King Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, were both convicted of adultery and treason and executed. There was very little evidence against Anne, and she was likely innocent, but she didn’t give Henry VIII a male heir and he wanted to be rid of her so he could marry his new mistress, Jane Seymour.