The royal family is really just a company — and a fabulously profitable one, at that

This article in the New York Times today ought to give pause to anyone on this side of the pond who still admires the British monarchy.

It examines the manner in which Prince Charles — now King Charles — has managed to become even more grandly wealthy than before by building up the Duchy of Cornwall:

The conglomerate’s holdings are valued at roughly $1.4 billion, compared with around $949 million in the late queen’s private portfolio. These two estates represent a small fraction of the royal family’s estimated $28 billion fortune. On top of that, the family has personal wealth that remains a closely guarded secret.

As king, Charles will take over his mother’s portfolio and inherit a share of this untold personal fortune. While British citizens normally pay around 40 percent inheritance tax, King Charles gets this tax free. And he will pass control of his duchy to his elder son, William, to develop further without having to pay corporate taxes.

The growth in the royal family’s coffers and King Charles’s personal wealth over the past decade came at a time when Britain faced deep austerity budget cuts. Poverty levels soared, and the use of food banks almost doubled. His lifestyle of palaces and polo has long fueled accusations that he is out of touch with ordinary people. And he has at times been the unwitting symbol of that disconnect — such as when his limo was mobbed by students protesting rising tuition in 2010 or when he perched atop a golden throne in his royal finery this year to pledge help for struggling families.

Today, he ascends to the throne as the country buckles under a cost-of-living crisis that is expected to see poverty get even worse. A more divisive figure than his mother, King Charles is likely to give fresh energy to those questioning the relevance of a royal family at a time of public hardship.

That part about inheriting billions without having to pay taxes like every other schlub is likely not sitting well with many people.

Sort of put Charles’ promise to serve Britain “until I die” in a different light, does it not? I’d serve every day until I die if someone threw in $28 billion.

I wonder how the Crown can possibly survive now that the beloved Queen is gone. Taking money from a grandmother figure who served in a world war is one thing. But I doubt Charles inspires that kind of loyalty, and I doubt William will, either.

The Firm.

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