Some members of the Royal Family aren’t going to be enjoying the same sort of free ride they’ve become accustomed to, as King Charles is reportedly starting the process of modernizing the monarchy.
As reported by the Evening Standard, King Charles is looking to slim down the monarchy’s finances and this includes eliminating subsidized rent and housing for working royals.
Sources tell the news outlet that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s eviction from Frogmore Cottage earlier this month was the start of Charles’ five-year plan that will see the finances of the Royal Family streamlined through belt-tightening and cost-cutting.
According to reports, following Charles’ coronation in May, two members of the palace staff — Vice-Admiral Sir Tony Johnstone-Burt, Master of the Household, and the Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Michael Stevens — will begin looking at inefficiencies in what was described as a “top-heavy royal household.”
This means that members of the Royal Family will be expected to pay for their own rent and finances on their homes, as well as personal finances.
The efforts to decrease the number of royals financially dependent on the Crown is due to King Charles’ efforts to spend resources more efficiently and offer competitive salaries, benefits and pensions to members of staff and potential new hires.
Several members of the extended Royal Family have been using subsidized palace accommodations for London apartments for them and their children for years, and that is expected to come to an end.
A source tells the Evening Standard, “Over time, that is going to change. Properties will be let at commercial rates going forward and to people outside the family. Where it is in a palace environment they will of course be security vetted.”
The report added that Charles wants the Monarchy to be “fit for purpose,” with one source telling the outlet, “The boss wants effective people in effective positions doing effective jobs being paid appropriately.” Charles is reportedly working closely with his son and heir to the throne, Prince William, to plan and enact the changes.
In September, shortly after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, ET spoke with royal expert Katie Nicholl, who discussed the finances of the royal family and shared why the estimations of their wealth are “pretty conservative” at best.
“The royal family’s wealth is estimated to be collectively about $442 million, which sounds pretty conservative, I think, when you think of the Royal Family, and their wealth, and their gems, and their art collection, and their palaces,” Nicholl explained. “Remember, not all of them are owned by them personally… Part of the problem with estimating the royal family’s wealth is that no one really knows the true value of those priceless Canaletto [paintings] hanging in Buckingham Palace or the royal collection.”
Things like the Imperial State Crown and other crown jewels, as well as certain royal residences, Nicholl explained, belong to the nation, not the individuals themselves. With all of that in consideration, though, “Forbes magazine estimates the royal family’s wealth overall to be 28 billion pounds.”
“The royal family takes the profits from the crown estate, which is their portfolio of land and property around the country, the rest goes to the government,” Nicholl explained. “That has proved a very balanced way of financing the royals. As of last year, they took, in terms of the sovereign grant, $99 million.”
On top of that, Queen Elizabeth had her own unique money-making ideas.
“I think the queen was actually a very canny businesswoman,” Nicholl said. “Let’s not forget, she changed the way the Royal Family was financed. She voluntarily paid income tax on her earnings, thus diverting any criticism over the wealth of the Royal Family. She got expenditure down to the Royal Family essentially costing each member of the British public less than two pounds.”
Ultimately, Nicholl said, “what’s harder to put a price on is what they generate for the country, the monarchy as a business,” something she called “priceless.”