With the news of Prince Philip's death at age 99, people are flocking to Buckingham Palace to leave bouquets outside of the gates. Built in 1703, generations of the royal family have lived within the palace walls.
As for who actually owns the estate, it isn't the Queen herself. Occupied royal palaces like Buckingham Palace all fall under the same umbrella.
Buckingham Palace is held in a trust.
Buckingham Palace has been occupied by the U.K. sovereign since 1837. Before that, the King of England and the royal family lived in St. James's Palace just about a quarter of a mile away. Some members of the royal family still live in St. James's Palace, but Buckingham Palace has understandably become the star of the show. Buckingham Palace has an unimaginable amount of rooms (52 bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms, to be exact).
Rather than being privately owned by Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace is held in a trust managed by the Crown Estate. The trust ensures that the property gets passed down to future generations of the royal family without any issues.
The Crown Estate, explained
The Crown Estate is a collection of properties—not a single piece of land or property. All of them belong to the royal family as a "corporation sole," or a single incorporated building occupied by an individual. This makes the Crown Estate the sovereign's public estate, which is a strategic move on the royal family's part. Holding properties this way helps keep them out of reach for the government while also helping the royal family avoid paying taxes on private property.
The Crown Estate includes properties throughout the U.K. in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The Queen does own private property.
In addition to being at the head of the royal family and, in turn, the Crown Estate, Queen Elizabeth II owns two pieces of private property on her own. The private property includes the Balmoral Castle of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and Sandringham House of Norfolk, England. These houses don't receive public funding and are paid with the help of the Queen's $480 million net worth.
All of the members of the royal family have a certain level of access to independent income, including investing through private property.
Prince Philip co-owned these private properties with Queen Elizabeth II. They were married for 73 years before his death in 2021. They used Sandringham as an annual Christmas retreat. With 8,000 hectares to its name, you can imagine how expansive the events must have been. As for Balmoral, it's more of a summer retreat (with 20,000 hectares, there isn't a shortage of space). Within Balmoral are Craigowan Lodge and Delnadamph Lodge.