The monarchy in the U.K. faces a wide range of opinions ranging from fascination to disdain. The royal family’s net worth prompts criticism of lavish lifestyles costing taxpayers money, while some insist the monarchy actually makes the nation money. How much does the royal family bring into the country?
The death of Queen Elizabeth II last week has prompted a new flurry of discussion and speculation about the royal family. How much money the family makes, how wealth is distributed among family members, and whether the family benefits Great Britain’s economy are common questions.
Some say there’s a royal family tourism myth.
It’s difficult to officially pinpoint how much the royal family brings into Britain’s economy. One could easily assume that tourists who visit Buckingham Palace and other royal sites would visit those locations even if the monarchy were abolished since those places are still beautiful and historical in nature.
Forbes reported in 2021 that the monarchy is a “$28 billion empire that pumps hundreds of millions of pounds into the United Kingdom’s economy every year.” However, other sources insist that figure is inflated and doesn’t accurately reflect how the monarchy impacts tourism revenue.
According to David Haigh, chief executive of Brand Finance, the royal family contributed $2.7 billion annually to the U.K. economy before the pandemic. His company estimated the royal family’s contributions to the media had a $70 million value, calling the royal family “a very formalized influencer business” that doesn’t directly benefit the members themselves.
Haigh claimed that the free media coverage drawn to the country from foreign fascination with the monarchy was worth $400 million in 2017, according to Forbes. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the numerous valuable properties held by members of the royal family and their ongoing generous living expense funds.
According to The National and Republic.org, the monarchy doesn’t really bring in as much tourism revenue as it claims. It’s hard to accurately estimate how many people come to the U.K. because of its monarchy.
Royal weddings and coronations likely add something to U.K. tourism revenue.
Although the weddings of Prince William and a few years later, Prince Harry, drew in tourists and plenty of media coverage, those are infrequent events that can’t really account for sustained tourism revenues. Coronations are even less frequent.
When Meghan Markle spoke in the infamous “Oprah” interview about “The Firm,” she discussed an invisible contract the royals have with the tabloids. That was part of the reason why she and Harry decided to exit his royal duties, although he's still in the line of succession — fifth in line after his brother William's children.
Will the coronation of King Charles III bring in tourist revenue?
Queen Elizabeth II’s death immediately caused the throne to pass to her eldest son, King Charles III. He will be officially crowned at some point in the future, likely in 2023, with his wife, Queen Consort Camilla also to be crowned. According to The Telegraph, the king wishes to create a “smaller, more modern monarchy.” His coronation ceremony may be scaled-back and less expensive than that of his mother’s 70 years ago.