World's richest royals
King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia (centre) is worth £11.2bn and is the world's richest royal
There are 44 active monarchies in the world. Unlike some unfortunate others, these kings, queens, sheikhs and sultans have kept their heads and their not-so-hard-earned cash intact.
With a combined GDP of more than £5 trillion, they boast spending power that would make almost anyone go green. But who is really worth a king’s ransom? We take a look into the coffers to bring you the top 10 richest royals.
10. Queen Elizabeth II (Queen of the United Kingdom)
What’s she worth? £271 million
Queen Elizabeth II is the fourth longest-serving head of state in the world. Her £271m personal fortune includes estates in England and Scotland, a fine art collection, precious gems, antiques and a large stamp collection that she inherited from her grandfather.
The £271m figure does not take into account the abundance of state-owned royal wares, such as the crown jewels, or royal building such as Buckingham Palace, which are merely 'on loan'.
9. Prince Albert II (Prince of Monaco)
What’s he worth? £541 million
The son of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III, Prince Albert II became ruler of Monaco after his father’s death in 2005, inheriting one of the most glamorous principalities in the world.
On his accession, he became the lucky owner of a range of interests in real estate, artworks, stamps and the small matter of Monte Carlo’s casino, Société des Bains de Mer. All of which make the singleton ruler, linked with such beauties as Claudia Schiffer, one of the most eligible bachelors on the planet.
8. Hans Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein (Prince of Liechtenstein)
What’s he worth? £2.2 billion
Hans Adam’s state may be miniature but his 900-year-old family fortune is not. The Liechtenstein family’s wealth has its roots in the ownership of vast swathes of land in the Holy Roman Empire, long before they owned the principality that now carries their name.
Nowadays, the Prince boasts three 17th-century palaces, four Viennese mansions, a priceless art collection – including works by Rembrandt and Rubens, an estimated 20,000 hectares of land in Austria, and Rice Tec Inc – a US producer of hybrid rice. Oh yes and his own bank – the LGT Group, which recently pulled in profits of more than £23m, and has £15bn in assets under management in its banking division.
7. Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard (Queen of the Netherlands)
What’s she worth? £2.6 billion
Queen Beatrix took over the throne back in 1980 and recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of her accession. Her personal wealth has been estimated at $4.7billion. Together with her family, she possesses a fortune that includes real estate, antiques and investments in companies such as ABN AMRO and Royal Dutch Shell.
She enjoys more influence than most of Europe’s monarchs, particularly in foreign affairs. It was reported that she once threatened to dismiss a cabinet minister for refusing to open a Dutch embassy in Jordan. Just like the British royals, the Dutch rulers have been hit by scandal. Perhaps the biggest was the marriage of Beatrix’s son Johan Friso. He renounced his right to the throne in order to marry Mabel Wisse Smit, a woman who was alleged to have been involved with a Dutch gangster.
6. Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor (The Sixth Duke of Westminster)
What’s he worth: £6.7 billion
Okay, so he’s not strictly royalty, but the Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish, is the wealthiest aristocrat in the UK and probably the world.
His estimated fortune of £6.7bn comes mainly from his central London property empire. The Duke owns approximately 300 acres of the most exclusive commercial and residential property in Mayfair and Belgravia. He even owns the land on which the US Embassy stands, in Grosvenor Square. Add to that estates in Lancashire, Cheshire (Eaton Hall) and Scotland and the fact that his worldwide assets increased 17 per cent in the past 12 months and you can safely say that this man lives like a king.
5. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Ruler of Dubai)
What’s he worth? £7.6 billion
Since becoming Dubai’s 10th ruler back in January, Sheikh Mohammed has worked to transform the Persian Gulf Emirate into a respected aviation, business and tourist hub with an estimated GDP of £22bn in 2006.
A proportion of the family fortune, which he shares with his brothers, comes from the government’s stake in banks, aluminium and real estate companies. In addition they have substantial oversees investments, which include a stake in DaimlerChrysler and aerospace company Doncasters, as well as their recent purchase of the Tussaud’s Group.
4. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (President of the United Arab Emirates)
What’s he worth? £10.3 billion
Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates since 2004, the majority of Sheikh Khalifa’s family’s cash comes unsurprisingly from the Emirates' rich oil reserves. They control more than 90 per cent of the 2.5 million barrels a day exported from the UAE.
But not content with owning the Emirates, in the past year Sheikh Khalifa added more than £1bn worth of real estate in London’s West End to his family’s portfolio.
3. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (Sultan of Brunei)
What’s he worth? £10.9 billion
As the heir to an unbroken 600-year-old Muslim dynasty, it’s not surprising that the name Sultan Hassanal of Brunei has become synonymous with wealth and luxury.
The Sultan derives most of his fortune from extensive petroleum and natural gas fields, and since his accession in 1967, Hassanal has become known for his extravagant lifestyle, which includes a 1,788-room palace and a fondness for building mosques made of diamonds and gold. He also owns a couple of Boeing 747-400s.
2. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsau (Nephew of the King of Saudi Arabia)
What’s he worth? £10.9 billion
Prince Alwaleed, son of the founding king of Saudi Arabia and nephew of the current Saudi king, is not in line to rule but remains one of the world's wealthiest investors with a £10.9bn personal fortune.
Starting out with a £16,000 loan from his father and a £220,000 mortgage, Prince Alwaleed has built an international investment portfolio that includes a big stake in Citigroup and a 30 per cent holding in Euro Disney SCA. Along with a partner, he announced a £2.1bn deal to buy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts back in January 2006.
The Prince also came under fire at the end of last year for donating £10.9m to American universities Harvard and Georgetown to aid the expansion of their Islamic studies departments.
1. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (King of Saudi Arabia)
What’s he worth? £11.2 billion
A man who once shared digs with Bedouin tribesmen, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz had to wait until the ripe age of 81 to take over the reins in Saudi Arabia, but even before that, as regent, he was still the richest ruler in the world.
No prizes for guessing that oil is the main source of family income, with the black gold amounting to 45 per cent of the country’s £185bn GDP.
Under King Abdullah, there are high hopes for reform, which would see some of the family’s vast wealth shared with the Saudi nation. His philanthropic acts include paying for two Polish conjoined twins to be separated after he heard about them on the internet.
Should the rich do more for third world countries? What do you think?