Prince William became Prince of Wales after the proclamation of King Charles III as the British monarch. His wife, Catherine, or Kate Middleton, was similarly elevated as Princess of Wales. And while the royal titles rose in ranks, the net worth of Prince William witnessed a massive jump that took it past the billion-dollar mark from an estimated USD 40 million in a single day.
It all began with the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch in history. The Queen passed away on 8 September at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Her demise marked the end of an era — a defining moment which brought together some of the world’s most powerful political figures at her state funeral held 11 days later.
While the passing of the Queen marked a significant political shift in world history, it also brought about a set of changes in the order of succession and the transfer of wealth — the latter of which made King Charles III richer than he was before and his son, Prince William, the owner of a property equal to the size of Budapest.
A look back at Prince William’s life before he became the Prince of Wales
Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011. They have three children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Before he became a full-time working royal, Prince William was serving in the military. He joined the Household Cavalry in the Blues and Royals regiment in 2006 and later served three years as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in the Royal Air Force (RAF).
A 2011 Forbes report says that Prince William drew a salary between USD 68,000 and USD 74,000 per year as an RAF pilot. In 2015, he joined East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) as an air ambulance pilot and donated his salary of USD 62,000 per year to charity. Two years later, he left the job to become a full-time royal.
Even though he was second in line to the throne till his grandmother was alive, the primary source of Prince William’s wealth was his share in a fund created by his mother, Princess Diana, and great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Being a senior working royal, Prince William’s official tours and duties were till now covered in part from the earnings that King Charles III made as the Duke of Cornwall.
He also received his share from the Sovereign Grant, a substantial portion that the government returns to the reigning monarch in exchange for the profits made by the Crown Estate — one of the biggest landowners in all of the UK.
According to the Crown Estate’s financial report, the Sovereign Grant in 2021-22 amounted to around USD 100 million. Exactly how much of this went into Prince William and Kate’s royal duties remain unknown.
However, all of this changed with the death of Queen Elizabeth II. King Charles III became richer by inheriting his mother’s personal possessions and as the new holder of the Duchy of Lancaster and, above all, the Crown Estate.
When he was heir to the throne, King Charles III’s most important source of wealth was the Duchy of Cornwall — which now passes to his son, Prince William. And it is this duchy whose possession turned Prince William into a billionaire overnight.
Everything that contributes to Prince William’s net worth
Duchy of Cornwall
In 2019, when he was still the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William shared his thoughts about inheriting the Duchy in the future. Speaking to Mervyn Keeling in an episode aired on ITV, he said, “I think it’s important, Mervyn, about the family angle. I really do. I’ve started to think about how I will inherit the Duchy one day and what I do[sic.].”
Responding to his words later, King Charles III, who was the then Duke of Cornwall, said, “Frankly, it reduced me to tears. It did really. Because I suddenly thought, well, just hearing that from him has made all the last 50 years worthwhile.”
Now that Prince William is the heir to the throne, he succeeds his father as the Duke of Cornwall and, as such, inherits the Duchy of Cornwall.
The self-described “private estate which funds the public, charitable and private activities of the Prince of Wales and his family” is, therefore, his prime source of wealth from now on.
And how much is the Duchy of Cornwall expected to fetch Prince William? An estimate can be gauged from the earnings of King Charles III from the duchy in 2021 when he held it as the Duke of Cornwall.
A report by The New York Times reveals that as a prince, King Charles III made a profit of USD 28 million from the Duchy of Cornwall last year. For long has the duchy been the most substantial contributor to the net worth of King Charles III, bringing him “tens of millions of dollars a year,” as per the report.
But what is the Duchy of Cornwall, and what is the source of its high revenue?
The duchy owns and manages several properties across 20 counties of England and Wales. Among the most notable possessions of the duchy are Oval cricket ground, one-third of the Dartmoor National Park, the coastline and riverbed around Cornwall and part of south Devon, and the Isles of Scilly — a picturesque archipelago off the coast of southern England.
There are also ancient monuments across the counties and modern flats in London under the duchy. An urban extension of the town of Dorchester, known as Poundbury, is also under the duchy’s management.
Since the Duchy of Cornwall is technically also the owner of Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, it is now the residence of Prince William and Kate. However, King Charles III spent a day at Highgrove House following his mother’s death and his proclamation as the Sovereign, which means that it is still not clear who will eventually call the palatial 1.42-sq-km property — and its 18th century Georgian, nine-bedroom neo-classical mansion — their home.
King Charles III and Queen consort Camilla have long used the property as their ‘family house.’ In fact, King Charles III personally oversaw the facelift of the gardens on the property, which he bought in 1980.
According to The Daily Mail, King Charles III will have to pay a rent of around USD 760,000 per annum as rent to Prince William and Kate if he decides to continue living at Highgrove House.
Apart from Highgrove House, the Duchy of Cornwall also has the Llwynywermod mansion near the village of Myddfai, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, in Wales. The house was another of the buildings that were bought by King Charles III when he was a prince in 2006.
The total size of all properties under the Duchy of Cornwall measures more than 525 sq km, which is about a third of the total area of London. The estimated total value of this portfolio comes to around USD 1.4 billion.
The Duchy of Cornwall was founded in the 14th century with the sole aim of providing a means of earning for the heir to the throne if the person is the eldest son of the monarch. King Charles III held it from 1969 until he became the monarch following the death of his mother on 8 September.
Though the duchy does not pay corporation tax despite being run like a business, it defends itself on the grounds of not being a corporation. The official site of the duchy mentions that “though not required,” the Prince of Wales pays income tax on the duchy’s surplus and his own income from it.
“If the Duchy also paid corporation tax, the Prince would effectively be taxed twice on the same income,” the duchy states.
Grants from Princess Diana and Queen Mother
Prince William and Prince Harry were known as extremely close to their mother, Princess Diana, who died in a tragic car accident in France in 1997.
According to Forbes, the princess left her sons USD 10 million after taxes. When Prince William turned 25, he started receiving annual dividends of USD 450,000 per annum from the fund. Five years later, as per a variance enacted by Diana’s mother and sister, he received the full sum, which came to be around USD 16 million. The same arrangement was followed for Harry when he turned 25 and 30, respectively.
Princess Diana also left 75 percent of her material possessions, including jewellery, for her sons and their future wives.
In 1997, both Prince William and Prince Harry were asked to pick one memento from Princess Diana’s personal collection. Prince William picked his mother’s gold Cartier Tank Francaise watch, which was given to her by her father on her 21st birthday. Prince Harry, on the other hand, received a blue 12-carat sapphire-and-diamond ring which was purchased by King Charles III in 1981 for Princess Diana for their wedding.
However, when Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton, Prince Harry generously gave the ring to him. This was revealed in a 2017 Amazon Prime documentary The Diana Story by the princess’ former butler, Paul Burrell.
“Harry said to him [William]: ‘Wouldn’t it be fitting if she had mummy’s ring?’” Burrell said in the documentary. “Then one day, that ring will be sat on the throne of England. Harry gave up his precious treasure. His one thing he kept from his mother, he gave to his brother. That’s selfless, kind, and exactly who Diana was.”
There is also the Queen Mother’s fund that forms part of the net worth of Prince William. When she was 94, in 1994, the Queen Mother created a trust fund for her great-grandchildren using two-thirds of her money.
Prince William and Prince Harry will receive an estimated USD 17.9 million as their share of the fund, in parts till they are 40. But instead of dividing it into two halves, the younger royal will receive a larger share of the inheritance because he is far down the royal line of succession.
Kate Middleton’s net worth
The net worth of Kate Middleton includes all that is held by her husband, Prince William, as a working royal. As the Duchess of Cornwall as well as Princess of Wales, Kate is, therefore, one of the richest members of the British royal family.
However, she, too, apparently has her own share of wealth outside her life as a member of the royal family. She was rich even before she married Prince William. Her parents — Michael and Carole Middleton — are well-known, self-made millionaires. Their company, Party Pieces, is involved in the business of curating and delivering party essentials for its customers.
According to a 2019 report by Evening Standard, Party Pieces was worth USD 50 million. The business suffered a loss of over USD 1.4 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as per a 2021 report by Independent. In any case, it’s quite an established business.
It is not known if Kate has a stake in the business, but no one would be surprised if she has. After all, the idea to found the company came to her mother when she was planning Kate’s fifth birthday. Carole has also previously said that Kate developed the first birthday and baby category for the business way before she became a royal.
The Middletons are also quite close to the royal family. Prince George and Princess Charlotte have often been spotted holidaying with their maternal grandmother and spending time at the business.
Apart from her own family’s wealth, Kate also wears the 12-carat sapphire-and-diamond ring that belonged to Princess Diana and was given to Prince William by Prince Harry. Prince William also gave another set of diamonds and sapphires to Kate before their wedding.
According to the Evening Standard, she also received an Art Déco diamond jewellery set from King Charles III as a wedding gift and a gold charm bracelet from Camilla, the Queen consort.
One of the biggest properties that Prince William and Kate together hold is the Anmer Hall in Sandringham. It was gifted to them by Queen Elizabeth II when they got married. The estimated worth of the property is around USD 40 million.
(Main and Featured images: The Prince and Princess of Wales/@KensingtonRoyal/Twitter)
This story first appeared here.