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How much land does the Royal Family actually own?

Caitlin Morrison
The Royal Family's property holdings go far beyond Buckingham Palace: REUTERS

The biggest wedding of the year takes place this weekend, when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot at Windsor Castle.

As well as dealing with the pressure of global scrutiny in the run-up to her big day, and the prospect of living the rest of her life under the microscope as one of the Royal Family, Ms Markle is now contending with problems concerning her own family which emerged over the weekend.

However, there are definitely some perks to marrying a royal - not least of which is all the land they lay claim to. In case anyone needs reminding of what the Queen and her kin own, we’ve taken a look through the list of royal properties:

The Crown Estate

The bulk of the property owned by the Queen is held on her behalf by the Crown Estate, which operates as a real estate business and returns all of its profits to the Treasury, although the Queen then does receive a grant of 15 per cent of the total profits of the Estate from two years previous.

The group manages a property portfolio worth £12.4bn, and the latest available figures show that it delivered £329m to the Treasury for the 2015/2016 financial year.

Property within the Crown Estate’s central London portfolio includes almost all of Regent Street and around half the buildings in the St James’s area, comprising retail, residential and office space.

Away from the capital, the Crown Estate owns 14 retail and shopping parks and three shopping centres, as well as a large portion of the UK’s offshore windfarms - mainly because the estate manages the seabed out to a 12 nautical mile limit.

In addition, many of the Royal residences are held by the Crown Estate: Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland are all part of the portfolio.

Private property

The Royal Family also privately owns swathes of land across the UK in the form of two duchies, the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall.

All income from the Duchy of Lancaster goes to the reigning monarch, while the Duchy of Cornwall makes money for the heir to the throne - in this case, Prince Charles.

The Duchy of Lancaster consists of 18,433 hectares of land in England and Wales, the majority of which takes the form of rural estates in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire and Lincolnshire.

There is one major piece of property within the Duchy of Lancaster that is located in London - the Savoy Estate, home to one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. The Duchy had £519m of net assets under it control at the end of March last year, and made a profit of £19.2m in the same year.

Meanwhile, the Duchy of Cornwall consists of 53,000 hectares of land in 23 counties, mostly in the South West of England, including Cornwall, of course,and also the Isles of Scilly and Dartmoor. It also encompasses Highgrove, the private residence of the Prince of Wales and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Outside of the duchies, the Queen owns the 8,000 hectare Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, which has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862, as well as Balmoral. The Scottish castle and surrounding estate is made up of more than 25,000 hectares of land including forests and moors. It has been widely reported as the Queen’s favourite residence - but then again, so have most of the others.