One of the most interesting choices that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made for their wedding was to have it at Windsor Castle, which had a much smaller, more intimate chapel. But it also highlighted the fact that the royal family owns a lot of property. So how many estates does the royal family actually own?
A lot, actually. The royal family's residencies are broken into two categories. Some are owned by the Crown Estate, like Buckingham Palace, and others are privately owned, such as Queen Elizabeth's Sandringham House, which is where the family tends to spend the holidays every year, according to The Daily Mail. Currently, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh have four estates owned by the monarchy: Buckingham Palace in London, Windsor Castle out in the country, Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland, and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland, according to The Independent. There are also four estates that the Queen inherited from her father and owns privately. They are: Sandringham House in Northern England, Balmoral Castle, Craigown Lodge, and Delnadamph Lodge, all in Scotland.
But that list only includes Queen Elizabeth's personal estates. The other royals born into the family member also live in some of the Crown Estate's owned residencies and have privately owned home. For example, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall live in Clarence House in London, which is owned by the Crown Estate, so it's also technically the Queen's, and they also have private residencies (one located on the grounds of Balmoral Castle) and residencies inherited from the Duchess of Cornwall.
Going down the family tree, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live in Kensington Palace, which is owned by the Crown Estate, , according to Royal Central. The couple also own Anmer Hall privately, which is located on the grounds of Sandringham Castle. Just in case you missed it: That means that when the family goes up to Sandringham for Christmas or out to Balmoral for the summer, everyone has their own little "house" on the main grounds. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are currently living in Nottingham House, which is located on the grounds of Kensington Palace, according to Town & Country.
The estates and castles are not just residencies, but historical landmarks. For example, Buckingham Palace was originally built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703, according to E! News. It's also massive. There are 775 rooms, including 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. It's also the most famous, as it also serves as a tourist attraction in London. Some of the other estates are much lesser known, but you've seen them in pictures before. Here are some of the houses.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Queen Elizabeth isn't just living in her homes, she's also the legal owner of the Crown Estate, which is now a private company. So it pays her 15 percent of its profit, according to Business Insider. So even though there's a distinction between "crown-owned" and "privately-owned," they really own it all. In addition to the estates, the Crown Estate also owns the entire U.K. seabed up to 12 miles off shore, and it's valued at almost 12 billion pounds, according to Business Insider.
It's this strange ownership of property that had taxpayers riled up in 2016 when it was announced that Buckingham Palace would undergo renovations that would cost taxpayers about £369 million (or $457 million) taxpayer money, according to E! News. The Royal Trustees, along with the prime minister, asked for a 10 percent increase in the Sovereign Grant, which is what funds the upkeep of the queens' homes. The renovations include, "replacing electrical wiring, water pipes and the heating system, which were installed in the aftermath of the Second World War," as reported by E! News.
When the renovations were announced the Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said in a statement, "These urgent works have been properly costed and will ensure the Palace can continue its centuries-long tradition of being the working house of our Monarch. We will ensure every penny spent achieves the greatest value for money." Gauke also added that the renovations would "help to significantly improve visitor access, especially to schools, to help open up the Palace and its treasures even further to the public." So it's not a total waste.
The monarchy is a complicated entity. Between figuring out where all the money comes from and calculating just how many residencies are on the grounds of each of the Crown's properties, it can be hard to keep up. The British monarchy is more than just Buckingham Palace.