The British Royal family is famous across the globe. While they are highly prized by their people and beyond, there are those that can’t help but think the House of Windsor costs a little too much. This year, a report was released detailing the expenditure of Queen Elizabeth II’s ever-growing clan.
It details everything from renovation expenses to how much they spent on food and wine. Let’s take a look at some of these astronomical bills straight from the report itself, with a couple of bonus entries thrown in for good measure. You won’t believe how much Meghan Markle’s wardrobe cost…
Frogmore Cottage Renovations For Harry And Meghan – $3 Million
When Harry and Meghan first got married, they were all set to live at Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace. The palace is home to several royal couples, but most famously houses Prince William and Kate Middleton. Amid rumors of a feud, Harry and Meghan moved out of Nottingham Cottage and into Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Castle estate.
Previously, the residence was used as staff quarters so apparently needed some updating due to its “poor condition.” The royals spent around $3 million getting their new home ready to move in with their son, Archie.
Staff Wages – $29.5 Million
With big royal households comes a lot of staff. Palaces have many rooms, all of which need to be looked after. Throw in maids, chefs, butlers, and assistants for the various members of Her Majesty’s family and you’re looking at a hefty bill come payday.
All in all, staff members were paid a combined sum of $29.5 million this year. The report states that the majority of staff are situated at either St James’ Palace or Buckingham Palace in London. In the last year, 276 men and 279 women found gainful employment in the inner sanctum of Britain’s most famous family.
Travel Costs For UK Royal Engagements – $19,000
Being part of the royal family isn’t all fun and games. Most members of higher rank have a schedule packed full of engagements. Despite her advancing age, the Queen is still very active. She took on 140 engagements in the UK this year.
Even Her Majesty has to pay for fuel and travel expenses. $19,000 was spent getting members of the royal family from point A to point B in 2019. As the family travels in comfort and in style, it’s hardly surprising that they’ve racked up quite a bill. They’re not going to fly in economy or take an Uber.
Overseas Royal Tours And Work – $1.2 Million
On the flip side, $19,000 is a drop in the ocean compared to the bill for overseas ventures. Work-related tours cost around $1.2 million. The family reportedly takes their carbon footprint very seriously and always considers how their royal tours can be done in the most environmentally-friendly manner.
International travel is always going to be more expensive than domestic, especially when you have to factor in security as well as comfort and time efficiency. $1.2 million is a small price to pay to ensure that everyone gets home in one piece after months away from home.
Buckingham Palace Restorations – $3.4 Million
Buckingham Palace was completed way back in 1703, making it a rather old house. Not only is it a tourist attraction, but it’s an important part of history. With that being said, old buildings need a lot of upkeep. As part of a 10-year renovation project, $3.4 million was spent on sprucing it up last year alone.
Another $19.3 million has been squirreled away to fund more renovations in the coming years. A large portion of 2019’s funds went toward replacing aging electrics and “mechanical infrastructure” in the east wing of the palace, which also received new elevators.
Meghan’s Wardrobe – $500,000
Some outlets report that Meghan’s wardrobe alone cost over $500,000 in her first official year as a royal. Although members of the family are always decked out in spotless outfits, this is a little extravagant. However, some say this figure takes into account Cartier jewelry that she was gifted by her father-in-law, Prince Charles.
Meghan is a fan of sustainable fashion and affordable brands like Zara and H&M, so it’s unlikely that next year will have such a huge price tag. Not to mention that she most probably spent a little more on account of being new. Kate Middleton joined the family in 2011 and has been known to re-purpose outfits.
Prince Charles And Camilla’s Overseas Tours – $532,000
While overseas travel is certainly sure to burn a hole in the budget, it depends on what else the royals get up to in their spare time. When Prince Charles and Camilla embarked on a 12-day visit to the Caribbean, they managed to spend it up.
While doing their official duties, they also made time for a host of activities such as their own private cocktail class. When all was said and done, the couple dished out an impressive $532,000 for less than two weeks away from the UK. That’s not something to be taken lightly!
Prince William’s Undercover MI5 Stint – $94,100
Prince William is well-liked by the general public because he takes in an interest in important matters. In April 2019, the heir to the throne spent almost a month working with the MI5 (security service) and MI6 (foreign intelligence) in secret. During this time, he helped anti-terrorism teams in Jordan, Israel, and Palestinian-occupied territories.
Even helping comes at an expense to taxpayers, though. Around $94,100 was spent on Prince William’s undercover stint – although many would argue that this was money well spent, given the noble cause. Not only was it a good experience for William, but good for the public to see their future king so invested in combatting these issues.
Prince George And Princess Charlotte’s Education – $51,000
Prince George and Princess Charlotte are now both attending the elite Thomas’s Battersea London, one of the best schools in Britain. The private school is full of well-to-do children. At a cost of $8,500 per term per child, it’s certainly not for those who are trying to save their pennies.
For an entire year, Kate and Will’s children will be educated to the tune of $51,000. It’s thought that Prince Charles foots the bill for this expense from his inheritance and money he gets from the Sovereign Fund. In fact, William’s dad often cuts a check for many of the expenses incurred by his kids.
Food And Drink – $2.2 Million
Of course, with so many guests to entertain, there’s going to be a lot of food. For events such as the pictured Commonwealth dinner at Buckingham Palace, heads of state expect nothing but the finest food and wine. They certainly get it.
The Master of the Household’s department hosted no less than 240 receptions, 158 lunches, nine garden parties and 75 dinners over the year. These spanned across Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, St James’s Palace, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. These funds come from the Sovereign Grant, i.e. money that comes directly from the British taxpayer and into the kitty.
Victoria & Albert Mausoleum Renovations – $1.8 Million
Among some of the more interesting renovations undertaken in 2019 was the overhaul of the Victoria & Albert Mausoleum, situated within the Home Park, Windsor. Otherwise known as the Royal Mausoleum, this building houses Queen Victoria and her husband Albert’s remains.
Apparently, the structure was beginning to fail and was officially listed on the Historic England ‘Heritage At Risk’ register. The first part of the project formed a dry moat around the base of the mausoleum and the installation of heating and pipework to dry the building out. Further phases are to follow in the next few years.
William, Kate, and Harry’s Clothing And Activites – $6 Million
As already noted, Prince Charles tends to pick up the tab for expenses relating to Prince William, Kate, Prince Harry, Meghan, and their children. Aside from Meghan’s impressive spend on finery in the last year, the Prince has shelled out around $6 million on his kids and their wives.
This includes their clothing and any extra-curricular activities they get up to. It’s interesting to note that while this figure has risen by over a million since Meghan joined the family, the former actress paid her own way right up until Harry proposed to her in 2018.
An Assistant Gardener for the Earl and Countess of Wessex – $28,000
Not only are the properties in the royal portfolio expansive by themselves, but they often come with vast grounds. The family employs a wide variety of gardeners across their estates, with varying salaries. The Earl and Countess of Wessex have an assistant gardener to take care of the 210,000 square meter-grounds.
The couple lives at Bagshot Park, near Windsor, and pay an approximate $28,000 to have their bushes trimmed. The head gardener gets paid a considerable amount more, but it’s not a bad start for those with a green thumb. Bagshot isn’t the biggest royal residence by far, but it’s certainly enough to keep several employees.
Gas, Water, Electric – $3.8 Million
If you thought your utility bill was high for your small two-bed apartment, just be thankful that you don’t have to shell out $3.8 million annually just to keep the rooms heated. According to the report, the royal household shelled out £2.9 million (that’s $3.8 million dollars) in utilities alone in 2019.
This spans across the portfolio of royal properties, but is still a sizable amount. With all these large rooms, high ceilings, and single-glazed windows, it’s only to be expected. Cooking for hundreds of people at a time will also add to the cost of the gas bill significantly.
Helicopter Rides – $906,000
If you’ve got somewhere to go, what better way to arrive than by helicopter? Apparently the royals favor this mode of transport, considering that they spent close to a million dollars on it this year. As well as this, 43 charter flights tallied up to $485,000.
Rail was by far the cheapest way for Her Majesty to get around, but even that cost $105,000 for 2019. As previously mentioned, traveling in style and class is an absolute must for the British royal family. It all makes up part of the overall cost incurred under the header “travel expenses.”
Hosting The U.S. Commander-In-Chief
It’s common for U.S. dignitaries to pop across the pond and visit with the Queen occasionally. The Commander-in-Chief landed in England in early 2019.
Although his stay was only four days, the cost of the entire affair was around $18 million. Most of this was made up of security costs, as the British government had to draft in enough policing to ensure his safety. While this isn’t a strictly royal expense as it spanned across agencies, it certainly put a dent in the bank balance.
Prince Andrew’s Security – $330,000
Prince Andrew has been in the headlines recently, and he reluctantly stepped down from his Pitch@Palace business venture. While it may be a melancholy moment for Prince Andrew, it may be a good thing for the taxpayer.
From 2014-2019, the royal spent a total of $330,000 on private security detail on his travels to promote his business, both at home and abroad. Many think the expense was unnecessary given the Duke’s relatively minor status in the family, but security is often deemed an absolute must for the House of Windsor.
Kensington Palace Refurbishment – $1.7 Million
Meghan and Harry’s taxpayer spend on their home was highly publicized, while Kate and Will’s home improvements flew under the radar. The couple has lived at Kensington Palace for quite some time, but it needed some work.
Around $1.7 million was spent on various projects at the residence. This included the resurfacing of the palace driveway, as well as some much-needed electrical updating to a house on the estate called Old Stables Cottage. The Queen’s cousin Prince Richard now lives at the property alongside his wife, Brigitte, aka the Duchess of Gloucester. They are the latest of several couples to call the estate home.
Harry And Meghan’s Royal Tour Of Fiji And Tonga – $103,000
Prince Harry and Meghan are no stranger to royal tours, either. After the couple tied the knot in 2018 but before they welcomed their son Archie, they visited Fiji and Tonga. The bill didn’t come in until this year. The visit cost an estimated $103,000.
This is made up of travel costs, security, and numerous other things. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have also visited Australia together, despite only being married for less than two years. They like to keep busy, with Meghan only taking a little time off to recuperate after the arrival of their son, Archie in May 2019.
A Dishwashing Assistant At Buckingham Palace – $25,000
Busy grand houses often have a lot of people staying at any one time, even if the Queen isn’t “at home.” That means a lot of dishes. While one assumes that Her Majesty has probably upgraded the kitchens to include dishwashers, Buckingham Palace still has some hired help.
The cost of a single dishwashing assistant at the Queen’s London residence is $25,000 per year. For any kitchen assistant looking to step up to the next level, this is a great opportunity. How many people can say they’ve washed the plates of some of the most important people in the world?