The Queen’s £13 Billion Property Empire

The English Monarchy holds a huge amount of historic property in the UK, which is managed by the Crown Estate.

The Crown Estate announced in June that it returned a record £328.8 million to the Treasury in 2016 as the value of the overall estate rose to an astonishing £13.1 billion.

Alongside property historically owned by the monarchy, the Queen also personally owns property assets — rather those attached to the office of the monarch — and her holdings include some of the grandest properties in Britain.

DMZ takes a look at the most spectacular royal assets, which includes some of the country’s best-known buildings: iconic race courses, grand hotels, historic castles, and an offshore energy portfolio worth over £1 billion.

The Savoy, London: The Queen privately owns an 18,433-hectare estate called the Duchy of Lancaster. It is administered separately from the Crown Estate. Part of that is the Savoy Estate, a stretch of prime real estate in central London which houses the iconic Savoy Hotel, long seen as the height of sophistication.

Regent Street, London: The Crown Estate owns the entirety of Regent Street in London, one of the UK’s best-known shopping streets. It also owns prime retail property across the UK in locations including Oxford, Exeter, Nottingham, Newcastle, Harlow, and Swansea.

St James’s Market, London: The group let over 400,000 square feet of office space this year across its central London portfolio for a total rent of £34.4 million per annum.

Windsor Castle & Great Park, Berkshire: The 6,400-hectare Windsor estate in Berkshire is part of the Crown Estate’s portfolio. The Castle is the Queen’s preferred weekend destination and is also used to host state visits. Windsor Great Park is the only Royal Park managed by the Crown Estate.

Under current arrangements, the Queen receives back 25% of the Crown Estate’s revenues in the form of a Sovereign Grant, which is used to fund her official work and the upkeep of her residences. The 8% uptick in revenues means she will receive a £6 million boost in funds to £82.2 million in the Sovereign Grant, which is paid two years in arrears.

This year, Queen Elizabeth’s property empire, the Crown Estate, delivered a record £328.8 million to the Treasury last year thanks to beefed up returns from its wind farms and assets in central London.

The return is up 8.1% on the previous year, and takes the total that the Estate has returned to the Exchequer in the last decade to over £2.6 billion. The capital value of the overall estate increased by 2% to £13.1 billion.

Unfortunately, the above properties do not make the Queen the largest property holder in London. Canary Wharf Group Investment Holdings, which is co-owned by Qatar Holdings, part of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and American investment group Brookfield, is the capital’s largest property owner, with almost 21.5m sq ft of space on its books, according to data from the research firm Datscha.

The government of Qatar also owns a further 1.8m sq ft, making the Middle Eastern country by far the most dominant force in London property. In contrast, Her Majesty owns just under 7.3m sq ft.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, the former head of the QIA, said last year that Qatari investment into the UK to date amounted to £30bn, and that London was the preferred destination.

DMZ thinks The Queen (and her representatives) have astutely diversified her property portfolio, as she has invested in both traditional UK real estate in addition to 30 wind farms. These wind farms were identified as a key driver in the group’s performance, with its energy, minerals and infrastructure division generating £27.7 million. We are sure this will continue to grow and expect a serious uptick in sovereign investment in green energy.

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