Liechtenstein family the wealthiest of Europe's royals

 

The British royal family is far from a poor relation, but even with £2.7 billion it is not the richest monarchy in Europe, a survey shows.

While the Windsors' fortune puts them third in the wealth league, the £3.3 billion belonging to the Liechtenstein family of Liechtenstein makes it the richest of Europe's 10 reigning monarchies.

Second on the list is Luxembourg's royal family - the Luxembourgs - with £3 billion.

The survey, by EuroBusiness magazine is one of the first to assess some of the most closely-guarded fortunes in the world. It places Prince Charles ahead of his mother at number six in a table ranking the individual wealth of reigning European royals, estimating that the Prince has £6.5 million more than his mother with a wealth of £299 million.

Last night, Buckingham Palace dismissed the magazine's estimates as "overblown and speculative".

A spokeswoman complained that the survey included valuations of the crown estate and the Duchy of Cornwall in its estimate.

"These cannot be counted as personal assets," she said. "The royal family gains no personal benefit from the crown estate whatsoever and to include it in the calculation is misleading. Although the Prince of Wales is entitled to revenues from the Duchy of Cornwall, he cannot sell its assets."

The survey concludes that the Liechtensteins, who inhabit Europe's smallest country, headed by Prince Hans-Adam II, are at the top of the table because of an art collection estimated to be worth a minimum of £1.95 billion.

They are closely followed by the Luxembourgs, who own £1.5 billion in property and £1 billion in family trusts.

The Liechtensteins' collection contains some of the very best paintings in Europe, including a Leonardo da Vinci, worth £97 million, and a number of paintings by Rubens, Frans Hals, Brueghel, Van Dyck and Raphael. More than two dozen of their paintings are worth more than £39 million each.

The Windsors' art collection is bigger than the Liechtensteins' but is not as valuable.

The Luxembourgs, headed by Grand Duke Jean, have just 400,000 subjects but they own much of the country, including some of the richest and most productive mines in Europe.

The richest individual is Queen Beatrix of Holland, head of the Orange-Nassau household, with a total wealth of £1.25 billion. She pays tax on her private income, estimated to be £94 million. Norway's Oldenburg family is the poorest with cash and assets totalling £90 million.

The magazine points out that the cost to the state of maintaining the British royal family is "more than the expenses of all the other royal families combined" and adds that the Queen Mother "reputedly owes the royal bankers Coutts more than £4 million".

The Queen Mother is ranked as Europe's 22nd richest royal, with Princess Margaret 23rd, the Duke of Edinburgh 45th, the Princess Royal 57th, the Duke of York 63rd, Prince William 67th, Prince Edward 68th, and Prince Harry 69th.