How does Queen Elizabeth II actually make money?

Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth!

Castles, land, lavish jewels and everything regal—we all know that being royalty means being really, really rich. Queen Elizabeth II is no exception.

Though much of it is (obviously) inherited, we never really stop to think about just how much money the royals actually make year after year.

More importantly, where does that money come from? There's no set salary for being The Queen of England, though it would be nice if it were that simple.

Being royalty comes with endless obligations and responsibilities, and they're not necessarily compensated directly with money. Fortunately, however, there's a specific set of grants and rules in place that allow The Queen to generate an income every year.

Take a look at all of these celebs meeting The Queen:

Celebs Meet Queen Elizabeth II
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How does Queen Elizabeth II actually make money?
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Actress Angelina Jolie is presented with the Insignia of an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George by Queen Elizabeth II in the 1844 Room on October 10, 2014 at Buckingham Palace, London. Jolie is receiving an honorary damehood (DCMG) for services to UK foreign policy and the campaign to end war zone sexual violence. (Photo by Anthony Devlin - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) meets British actress Dame Helen Mirren (L) as television presenter Sir David Attenborough (3rd R) looks on during a Reception for the Dramatic Arts, at Buckingham Palace in London, on February 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO / YUI MOK/POOL (Photo credit should read YUI MOK/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 01: The Queen At The Royal Command Performance At The Victoria Palace Theatre On 1st December 1997 Shaking Hands With Pop Star Victoria Beckham (posh Spice) Of The Pop Band The Spice Girls. (Photo by Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) meets British-born actress Dame Angela Lansbury (R) during a Reception for the Dramatic Arts, at Buckingham Palace in London, on February 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO / YUI MOK / POOL (Photo credit should read YUI MOK/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 17: Queen Elizabeth II meets Helena Bonham Carter during the Dramatic Arts reception at Buckingham Palace on February 17, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
British actress Kate Winslet poses with her neck badge after being made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to drama by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London on November 21, 2012. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JOHN STILLWELL (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (L) shakes hands with Dame Helen Mirren (R) during a performing arts reception to celebrate young people, at Buckingham Palace, in central London on May 9, 2011. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Dominic Lipinski (Photo credit should read Dominic Lipinski/AFP/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II meets Sir Elton John backstage as British singer Robbie Williams (R) watches during the Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace in London, on June 4, 20112. A chain of more than 4,200 beacons began to flare across the globe Monday to mark Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee, with the last to be lit by the monarch at a star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace. AFP PHOTO / Dave Thompson /POOL (Photo credit should read Dave Thompson/AFP/GettyImages)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: (NO PUBLICATION IN UK MEDIA FOR 28 DAYS) Queen Elizabeth II invests Dame Judi Dench with the Insignia of a Companion of Honour at Buckingham Palace (Photo by POOL Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II meets author J.K. Rowling (Photo by Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/WireImage)
LONDON - MARCH 16: (NO UK SALES FOR 28 DAYS) Hugh Grant meets Queen Elizabeth II at a banquet to honour the President of the Italian Republic and his wife Signora Ciampi during their state visit to the UK at Italian the Ambassador's Residence on March 16, 2005 in London, England. (Photo by ROTA/Anwar Hussein Collection/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II meets French actress Catherine Deneuve at a Royal film Performance, 14th March 1966. Also present are (left to right) Christopher Lee, Ursula Andress, Woody Allen and Raquel Welch. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
4th November 1963: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1900 - 2002) talking to British pop group The Beatles after a Royal Variety Show at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London. (Photo by George Freston/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 04: Queen Elizabeth II meets actor Christopher Lee at a reception for the British Film Industry at Windsor Castle on April 4, 2013 in Berkshire, England. (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) meets Sir Paul McCartney backstage during the Diamond Jubilee Concert in London, on June 4, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II made a regal appearance at a star-studded diamond jubilee concert Monday but without her husband Prince Philip at her side after he was hospitalised hours earlier. AFP PHOTO / Dave Thompson/POOL (Photo credit should read Dave Thompson/AFP/GettyImages)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 14: Queen Elizabeth II (L) meets Annie Lennox following the annual Commonwealth Day Observance Service at Westminster Abbey on March 14, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 3: Queen Elizabeth II greets Penny Lancaster (2nd R) and Rod Stewart (R) during a reception for the Royal National Institute for the Blind at St James Palace on June 3, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: HRH Queen Elizabeth II listens as Bono makes a citation at a special 'Celebration of the Arts' event at the Royal Academy of Arts on May 23, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 17: Queen Elizabeth II meets Andrew Lloyd-Webber during the Dramatic Arts reception at Buckingham Palace on February 17, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by David Crump - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Britain's Queen Elizabeth II receives the Jubilee Baton from six-year old Kirsty Howard accompanied by British soccer player David Beckham during 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games opening ceremony 25 July 2002. Kirsty, who is seriously ill after being born with her heart back to front, is the mascot for the Francis House children's hospice which David and Victoria Beckham sponsor. AFP PHOTO DAMIEN MEYER (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

So bow down and take note—here are the three ways The Queen makes money:

1. Private Income

This includes money from inherited private estates, such as Sandringham and Balmoral Castle, and her personal investment portfolio. The Queen pays income tax on the revenue but her private wealth is not made public.

Don't let her day job fool you. The Queen, much like us commoners, has her own portfolio of financial investments which she profits off of. Another great thing about being royalty is all of that fun stuff you get to inherit when you take the crown, namely private estates.

SEE ALSO: Weird jobs that pay surprisingly well

This, however, does not include royal heirlooms (like the Crown Jewels) or other royal estates (you know, like that Buckingham Palace place) that are not The Queen's to sell.

It should be noted that though The Queen has paid income taxes since 1993, they remain private.

Translation: though it can be estimated, there's no actual way to find out just how much money she actually has.

We suppose you could ask her, but that might be a bit forward.

2. The Duchy of Lancaster (provides the Privy Purse)

No, we're not speaking a different language.

The Duchy of Lancaster is a compilation of over 18,000 hectares of land, property and other assets in both England and Wales.

It's been around since 1399 and is meant to provide a set income for The Queen, who is also known as the Duke of Lancaster (even though she's a woman).

The Privy Purse is the name of the income that's generated from the Duchy, which is used for the upkeep of The Duchy's land and property, as well as to fund her private and official expenditures.

The Queen receives all of the net profits from The Duchy, which she voluntarily pays income tax on.

The Privy Purse is generally considered to be The Queen's private income, though it's unofficial.

3. Sovereign Grant

This one involves a fun history lesson—we'll make it brief, don't worry.

Back in 1760, King George III had inherited a very large and profitable portfolio of land and property (including most of England's seabed) called the Crown Estate.

Though the land generated a mass amount of revenue, the King was not directly profiting from it because the money was going directly to paying the salaries of the country's judges, ambassadors and civil servants (which was called the Civil List).

Naturally, King George was annoyed so he made a deal with Parliament—he would hand over the revenue generated by the Crown Estate to the treasury if Parliament agreed to pay for the Civil List.

Oh, and he wanted a hefty lump sum, too. Parliament agreed.

So, what does this have to do with the Sovereign Grant?

The Sovereign Grant is a chunk of money that The Queen receives from the Treasury every year, which is 15% of the profits from the Crown Estate.

See, it all makes sense!

Since the profits generated by the Crown Estate vary year over year, so does the amount given to The Queen.

The Sovereign Grant is used to fund upkeep of occupied properties and residences (like Buckingham and Kensington Palaces) as well as royal travel expenditures and garden parties.

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How does Queen Elizabeth II actually make money?

Matthew Berry was a Hollywood screenwriter for 10 years, writing for sitcoms like "Married With Children" and movies like "Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles." For some, that's a dream come true. For him, it was awful.

"I was 35 years old and miserable and the only thing that made me happy was this dumb little fantasy sports website that I had started on the side," Berry told Lifehacker in 2013.

In 2005, Berry went after his passion: fantasy sports. Appearances on radio and TV for ESPN and the NBA landed him in a meeting with ESPN vice president John Kosner. Berry persuaded Kosner to let him turn his hobby into a full-time job.

Now, Berry is ESPN's senior fantasy sports analyst and the author of "Fantasy Life," spending his days playing in every type of league imaginable. The dream job has led Berry to tell Sports Business Daily, "I like my salary. But I'd do it for free."

Scott Leonard, founder and CEO of the boutique financial advisory firm Navigoe, spent the past several years traveling the Caribbean and South Pacific in his 50-foot-long catamaran sailboat with his wife, Mandi, and three sons — all while continuing to manage his successful business. 

During the time he was away enjoying quality time and scenic views with his family, his business grew its customer base and revenue. That was thanks to Leonard's careful preparation and occasional flights back home from ports for face-to-face meetings.

But mostly, Leonard embraced his long-held passion for sailing, while exploring new island locales with his family and working just 20 hours a week with a flexible schedule.

Nigel Franklyn was working as a journalist and model when he attended a conference on spas that launched him on a new path as a spa consultant. Today, he stays at spas around the world for weeks at a time to advise spa managers on how to improve their services for guests, Yahoo reported in 2014.

Traveling 10 months out of the year, Franklyn covers all aspects of spa design. He has worked for the past eight years without a set plan, instead relying on instinct and attentiveness to meet the needs of his clients.

"I am living my dream, not because of the places I see, but because this is my absolute, genuine passion," Franklyn told Business Insider. "The spa industry and well-being and healing are things that fill my soul — the level of luxury and beauty I am blessed to spend my life in is a byproduct of something that is much, much more grounded and rooted at my core."

Swedish gamer Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg is YouTube's most popular star. At 26 years old, Kjellberg (also known as "PewDiePie") has made a name for himself by playing various video games and filming his ridiculous and often hilarious reactions.

According to The Guardian, Kjellberg made $7.4 million last year from his "Let's Play" videos on YouTube and other ventures, and a Variety survey last year found him to be the third-most influential figure to American teenagers. He gets all this recognition just for playing video games, something most people pay to do.

Vanessa Selbst is the highest earning female poker player of all time, having amassed $11.6 million in total winnings. But professional poker isn’t her only strong suit. She took a break from poker to graduate from Yale Law School in 2012 and vowed to use her degree “to fight for racial injustice and economic equality.”

When she isn’t traveling and winning in poker, Selbst works with the foundation she established called Venture Justice, which supports racial justice, economic equality, and an end to police misconduct. She also serves on the board of the Urban Justice Center.

Ever since Donald Pettit saw John Glenn go to space, he knew he wanted to be an astronaut. One may think that, after spending more than a decade years as, literally, a rocket scientist, he was a natural choice for NASA's space program. Instead, it took Pettit 13 years and three rejections before he got into the program.

In 2002, Pettit got on his first mission, spending six months in space. The experience was everything he dreamed of and more. 

Pettit brought his boundless creativity to space. As an avid photographer, Pettit took hundreds of thousands of photos of the Earth and interesting cosmic phenomena. 

He also created a series of YouTube videos called "Saturday Morning Science," where he tested experiments in space. His most memorable was probably a demonstration in which he used Angry Bird dolls to demonstrate parabolic force.

Photographer Brandon Stanton was a bond trader in Chicago before he lost his job in 2010. While working as a bond trader, Stanton had bought a camera and started photographing downtown Chicago in his spare time. After leaving finance, he got the idea to pursue photography full-time.

While doing a photo tour of the US, Stanton found New York to be an ideal photographic setting. He began the Facebook profile Humans of New York. Now Stanton runs Humans of New York full-time, having amassed more than 16 million likes on Facebook and sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his "Humans of New York" book. The UN even sent Stanton to the Middle East to document people there.

Not bad for a supposed amateur.

Martine Rothblatt is one of the highest-paid female CEOs in America. She heads of United Therapeutics Corp and is worth $390 million, according to Forbes. She's also transgender and a futurist.

Rothblatt transitioned from being a man to a woman halfway through her life with the support of her, wife, Bina, four children, and other professionals who saw her transgender status as proof of a self-made pioneer, New York Magazine reported last year. 

When her youngest child was found to have a fatal disease constricting blood flow between her heart and lungs, Rothblatt founded and ran a pharmaceutical company that got FDA approval for a new pill that saved her daughter's life. Rothblatt is also an attorney and a founder of Sirius Radio. 

Beyond her life in business, she takes a helicopter between her four homes, including beautiful getaway locations in Vermont and Quebec, where she entertains friends and keeps a talking robot replica of her wife.

Rothblatt loves life so much that she never wants it to end; she interweaves her business skills with her futurist passion for technologies that she hopes will one day keep loved ones alive after death as digital beings.

After entering his 30s, Mark Christy left behind a decade of experience as a creative director for commercial productions to lead a nomadic lifestyle with his wife, Nives, a makeup artist in the fashion industry.

The Philadelphia couple quit their day jobs, sold or donated nearly all their possessions, and spent two months building a camper atop an ex-military trailer to call their new home. They set out in the summer of 2014 because they became sick of the daily grind of city work. 

"A lot of people don't start doing a bunch of consistent, long-term traveling until they retire because they can't with their work schedules," Mark told Business Insider. "We want to be able to do this stuff while we're still young enough to be active and explore places. At the same time, we realize we worked our asses off in our 20s, made a ton of money, and that money went right out the door on stuff that was fun but not really what we wanted to do in life."

The pair and their dog typically set up camp for a couple weeks at a single location, surrounded by gorgeous views of nature as they cook and sleep out of their tiny camper. They don't venture too far off the grid, since they've begun making money from their website Camp Trend, where they profile long-term camping enthusiasts, write reviews of camping apparel and gear, and show off original photos of the outdoor lifestyle. To supplement their income, the couple occasionally freelance in their old lines of work.

Colin Cowie makes his living throwing lavish parties for wealthy clients, including major celebrities like Oprah and Hugh Hefner, according to PopSugar. Born in Zambia, Cowie saw combat as a medic during his late teens in Africa, which taught him the necessary organizational skills to fulfill his dreams as a successful entrepreneur. He started more than 25 years ago as a "one-man show" but now runs world-renowned businesses specializing in event planning, weddings, consulting, and design.

"There is nothing more thrilling, rewarding, or fabulous than making people happy," Cowie told Popsugar. "And to think I get paid well to spend other people's money making other people happy — I can't imagine anything better."

For his 50th birthday, Cowie was his own client, throwing a four-day bash in Mexico with 170 friends from 11 countries and plenty of tequila, his favorite drink. Cowie plans to write an autobiography he believes will be "the juiciest page-turner ever," according to David magazine.

"I've lived the most fascinating life," he told David. "I've served in the military, traveled to close to 100 countries. I've met the most extraordinary people — heads of state, kings and queens, celebrities, innovators, motivators."

The life Erik Salitan has carved out for himself 67 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska may not seem like much of a dream at first glance, but it's everything he could have hoped for when he moved to Alaska at 18 to escape the monotony of a factory job.

He eats only meat he hunts and harvests himself and heats his home solely with firewood he chops from surrounding trees.

"I just go with it," Salitan told National Geographic, which features his lifestyle on its show "Life Below Zero." "You beat to your own drummer and make your own hours up here."

He has turned his dream into a business as owner and operator of Bushwhack Alaska Guiding and Outfitting, offering hunts and year-round wilderness adventures for clients.

"Alaska presents real challenges, but Erik is living his dream," writes National Geographic in the channel's profile of Salitan. "A successful day to Erik is a day spent doing his favorite things: walking around, looking at animals, climbing a hill, sitting on the edge of a mountain, and taking in the beautiful scenery."


It may be hard to remember, but Guy Fieri was not always a wildly successful television personality. When Fieri first made it onto the Food Network's "Next Food Network Star," he was just a restaurant owner in California. He was successful, but, before winning the show, he was not well-known.

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Fieri may get tons of flack from the cultural elite for his decidedly low-brow style. After all, he has bleach-blonde hair, wears bowling shirts, and was called "the Chef-Dude" in The New York Times. But it's hard to argue that a guy whose living is based around stuffing his face with some of the greasiest guilty pleasures isn't living the dream.


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