On September 9th Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest serving monarch in British history. Her majesty acceded to the throne on February 6th 1952, meaning that Queen Victoria’s record of 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes will soon be broken. This milestone has already begun to reignite debates about the Monarchy’s future and whether it is an asset or a drain on the British economy.
Specialist brand and business valuation agency Brand Finance sought to answer this question at the time of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, finding the Monarchy’s value at that point to be in excess of £44 billion (US$67bn). Brand Finance’s latest update to that figure suggests that as the Queen becomes Britain’s longest reigning sovereign, the institution that she leads is more valuable than ever. It is now worth just under £57 billion (US$87bn) and will make a net contribution to the economy this year of £1.155bn (US$1.767bn).
Brand Finance has estimated the value of the Monarchy, often known colloquially as ‘The Firm’, as if it were a business. First, the annual contribution to the UK economy has been estimated. Costs such as the Sovereign Grant, security and maintenance of palaces have been netted off against sources of income including the uplift to tourism, the price premium commanded by brands with Royal Warrants, the surplus generated by the Crown Estate. This net annual contribution amounts to £1.155 (US$1.767bn) in 2015.
When this contribution is projected into perpetuity, it has a net present value of £36.7 billion. To this are added The Firm’s tangible assets (the Crown Estate, the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster and the Crown Jewels) to reach a total of £56.7 billion (US$86.7bn).
Brand Finance Chief Executive David Haigh comments: “As Queen Elizabeth approaches this historic milestone, she heads a Royal Family near a peak of popularity. Yet the old debate over whether the Monarchy should be retained continues to rage. The principle of whether monarchy is an appropriate and fair form of government in the 21st century certainly remains open to question. However Brand Finance’s research shows that from an economic standpoint at least, the royalists firmly have the upper hand.”
“Brand Finance helps organisations to maximise the returns from their assets so our obvious next step is to work out whether ‘The Firm’ could be worth even more. The value of the ‘Royal brand’ should not be underestimated; the undervaluation of the ‘Royal’ aspect of the Royal Mail brand was one of the key reasons behind the sudden jump in its share price immediately after its IPO.
“A Royal Warrant can confer a significant premium to brands in certain industries such as luxury, food, sporting goods and fashion, yet are currently awarded at no cost to the holder. The introduction of royalties could provide a significant new revenue stream. The unofficial endorsement of Charlotte, George and Kate in particular has a profound financial effect running into millions annually. The demand for authentic connection to or emulation of key members of the royal family is by no means fulfilled. This too presents a major opportunity.
“Though the ‘monetization’ of the Monarchy may sound beyond the pale to some, in straightened times of continuing austerity in Britain, the Royal Family may come under increasing pressure to pay its way in more ways than it does now.”