Opinion: A queen and a dream have died
A little more than a week ago, Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral, her castle in Scotland. In the United States, the news, from every imaginable perspective, covered the death of the queen for days and days. I thought that the amount of coverage was excessive because, in the late 18th Century, we fought a costly and very bloody war to free ourselves from a repressive British monarchy.
The architects of our democracy were careful to draft documents that assured our nation would never tolerate a “nobility.” Indeed, it was clearly stated that “all men are created equal.” In context, “men” was gender neutral.
I had a dream
When I watched the announcement on TV, I had a dream. I fantasized that the queen’s kid, Chuck, would refuse enthronement and urge the people of Great Britain to adopt a monarchy-free democracy similar to the progressive countries of Western Europe, like France and Germany. But that dream was smashed on September 10th when Chuck became King Charles III. Of course, if the “royal family” were to give up the throne, they’d also have to give up much of the enormous wealth that has accumulated over the centuries. It’s estimated that the “royal” family owns nearly 250,000 acres of land in England, alone. And, there are a few castles located on that land, including Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, and Sandringham Estate.
The holdings also include the Duchy of Lancaster and Savoy Estate in downtown London, site of the luxurious Savoy Hotel. The Duchy of Cornwall includes Highgrove, home of Chuck and Camilla until they relocate. In total, the family owns close to 300 square miles of land.
The Duchy of Lancaster funds the monarch. So, much of the late Queen’s wealth came from the rents and taxes on the cities, towns, villages, farms, and various business enterprises on that chunk of England. Revenue from the Duchy of Cornwall goes to the eldest son of the reigning monarch. That was Chuck. But, now that he’s become king, the Cornwall bucks pass down to Billy, known to loyal subjects as Prince William.
During the late queen’s reign, she acquired the McDonald’s franchise for London. She also owned all dolphins, porpoises, and whales that came within three miles of the British coast, about 1,000 horses (including 30 race horses), and half of all swans in England. If that sounds bizarre, consider that fact that the new king has had three valets, one of whom irons his shoelaces. Proper appearance is required of the royal family.
The total net worth of the royal family is estimated to be $88 billion, and that’s spread out among various family members based upon their relationship to the crown, their order of succession to the throne, and a number of imponderables, including how much additional wealth they may generate. For example, when 7-year-old Princess Charlotte, daughter of Billy and Kate Middleton, was photographed wearing a certain item, the stores sold out overnight. The estimated value of her future revenue generation makes her a very wealthy little girl.
Most of the family wealth, between $500 and $600 million went to the late queen. Chuck, formerly Duke of Cornwall, was worth $400 million. Now that he’s King Charles III, I suppose he inherits mom’s bucks and, added to his own, that gives him a tidy sum in the pleasant neighborhood of one billion U.S. dollars.
Prince Andrew, another son of the late queen, gets an annual stipend of $400,000 and has a net worth estimated at $75 million. His daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, are worth $4.8 million and $5 million, respectively.
Prince Edward, the youngest of the late queen’s sons, is the Duke of Edinburgh. He’s worth $45 million.
Prince William has about $40 million, and his wife Kate Middleton is worth about $10 million, giving the couple a net worth of about $50 million.
Prince Harry and his American spouse, Meghan Markle, “divorced” themselves from the royal family. But, since the queen’s death, they’ve been making nice in England, greeting loyal subjects, and acting somewhat regal. He’s worth $39 million, and she’s worth about $10 million. But they’ve got big media deals in progress, and they have rich kids.
Their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the three-year-old Earl of Dumbarton and now a prince because of Chuck’s ascension to the throne, is worth between $65 and $90 million. His one-year-old sister, Princess Lilibet, has a valuation between one and two million, but that will grow as she gets older and more marketable.
Kate and Billy’s son, 4-year-old Prince Louis, is far more valuable. He’s worth between $100 million and $130 million. His brother, 9-year-old Prince George, is worth between 2.4 and 3.4 billion, with a “b”. But their sister Charlotte is the true family jewel. She is the Princess of Cambridge and worth a whopping $5 billion. Try to imagine ten years from now. Billy and Kate are trying to tell her whom she may and may not date.
Here’s one of the things that I hate about monarchies, blood royals, and nobility. In America, you have to work to earn your money, or — if you’re a politician — at least you have to pretend to work. In Great Britain, if you’re born into a “noble” family, you don’t work and the public adores you for your leisure. Regal duty involves riding in a chauffeur-driven limo while giving the royal wave to the crowd.
What the people in the crowd don’t seem to understand is that the royal wave is actually five middle fingers.
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Jim Glynn is Professor Emeritus of Sociology and no fan of monarchies. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.