Weird and Wonderful Things the Queen Owns

Updated: Jun 13

As Britain sets about celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this weekend, let's take a look at what the country's longest reigning monarch actually owns.


Selection of British money notes

Most of the Queen's property portfolio are part of the Crown Estate – meaning they belong to the reigning monarch but she or he does not have controlling or financial rights. The Crown Estate's property portfolio is worth about £11.5bn ($14.5bn) and surplus revenue goes to the government.


The Crown Estate includes Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Windsor Castle (the largest inhabited castle in the world and home to British monarchy for nearly 1,000 years), almost all of London's Regent Street and half the buildings in St. James, and about 20 retail parks, shopping centres and leisure destinations (making the Crown Estate Britain's fourth-largest owner of directly owned shopping parks), and around a quarter of a million acres of rural land across the UK.


In addition to the land and property portfolio looked after on the monarch's behalf, is one of the world's largest art collections. The Royal Collection contains 150,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, tapestries, furniture, ceramics, books, metal works, armour, jewellery and other historical titbits – such Queen Victoria's sketchbook, from 1861. The Collection belongs to the reigning monarch and it cannot be sold by the king or queen on the throne. The Royal Collection also includes the Crown Jewels, which are kept at the Tower of London.


That all knocks rather a lot off the ownership list. So, what does the Queen actually own?


The Queen owns all unmarked mute swans in open water in England and Wales – although she only exercises this right on certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries.


If you thought that was a bit weird, how about this: UK law stipulates that the reigning monarch owns whales, sturgeons and porpoises within three miles of Britain's shore. It was enshrined in a statute from 1324, during the reign of King Edward II, which stated: "The king shall have wreck of the sea throughout the realm, whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm, except in certain places privileged by the king." That law still stands today so if you accidentally catch one, you must first contact Buckingham Place and offer it to the Queen as a gesture of loyalty.


Sandringham House, which is set within the heart of the 20,000 acre estate, is a private royal residence in Norfolk where the family often spends Christmas.


It belongs personally to Queen Elizabeth, who inherited it from her father, King George VI, in 1952.


Balmoral Castle, set in around 50,000 acres, is the only other royal residence owned by The Royal Family. The Queen inherited the Aberdeenshire estate from her father and usually spends the summer break there.


Balmoral Castle facade
Balmoral Castle

The Queen is also the owner of a 45,000 acre private estate called The Duchy of Lancaster. The inherited portfolio is considered to be private property of the Queen and the profits fund the Queen's private and public expenses. A significant portion of the income comes from the Savoy Estate in central London.


The Duchy of Lancaster also includes vast swathes of rural land in England and Wales, plus about a dozen historic properties, including the Savoy Chapel in London, Pickering Castle in Yorkshire and Lancashire Castle.


The Queen also owns dogs (her beloved corgis), race horses (as of 2017, the Queen's horses had won almost £7m in prize money after achieving 451 race wins), cars worth about £10m ($12.5m), and an enormous number of handbags - with more than 200 alone produced by luxury London designer Launer. The average price tag for such an accessory is around £1,900 ($2,400).


Happy Platinum Jubilee ma'am (pronounced with a short 'a,' as in 'jam').

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