Inside The Biggest Royal Divorce Settlements

Being married to a member of a royal family isn't easy. There are restrictive rules you have to follow, and many details about your personal life suddenly become public. For some, getting out of that lifestyle seems like a dream. But for many of those royals-by-marriage, getting divorced is just as complicated. It often requires years of litigation and sometimes millions in legal fees, and it's a gamble as to what each spouse might leave the marriage with.

But for the lucky ones, leaving a royal family is a major cash-out. Royal families have access to incredible wealth, and the closer to the throne someone's spouse is (and the weaker the prenup), the more money, jewels, houses, and other amenities they tend to walk away with. Royal divorces aren't always big paydays, but for many, they've been quite profitable. Let's take a look inside some of the biggest royal divorce settlements.

Princess Di received a major cash settlement from then-Prince Charles

In perhaps the most famous royal divorce in modern times, Princes Diana and then-Prince Charles officially split in 1996, and Diana made out like a bandit. After three years of sorting out who would get what, Diana was awarded a $22.5 million cash settlement, and she was to receive $600,000 per year after. She, of course, didn't receive many payouts from her settlement as her tragic death occurred just over a year later. Still, the wealth she amassed from her divorce proved useful to one person, in particular, many years later.

At the time of her death, Diana was worth an estimated $25 million, which was left for her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. Since Prince William has remained a senior member of the royal family, he still receives a salary from the Duchy. Prince Harry, however, revoked his access to the family funds when he and Meghan Markle stepped down from their royal duties. Prince Harry didn't jump without a parachute, though. He had about $10 million left from his mother to keep his family afloat. He didn't need to rely on his inheritance for too long, though. He soon signed contracts for a variety of work that far exceeded what his mother received in her divorce settlement.

She also retained some royal perks

Money wasn't the only thing Princess Diana received in her divorce settlement. In addition to the cash settlement, the former royal highness maintained access to a variety of royal perks that she was afforded while married. For example, she was still allowed to use royal jets for travel and was able to keep her apartment at Kensington Palace. While she had to give up her office in St. James's Palace, she was able to use one at Kensington. Diana was also allowed to keep all of her jewelry, much of which has now been worn by Kate Middleton, including her iconic sapphire and diamond engagement ring.

Despite everything Diana was able to keep, she did have to give up something priceless: her titles. Although she was still called Princess Diana until her death, she had to give up her royal highness status, meaning she was officially just "Diana, Princess of Wales" rather than "Her Royal Highness Diana, Princess of Wales." Though it doesn't seem like a major change, the status demotion comes with several implications regarding royal protocol. Diana was subject to changes, such as being expected to bow to certain members of her family. The changes are similar to what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle experienced when they revoked their HRH status.

Sarah Ferguson received her own sum of cash in her divorce from Prince Andrew

1996 was a busy year for the royal family's public relations handlers. Just months before Princess Diana and then-Prince Charles's divorce was finalized, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson finalized their divorce. This divorce, however, was much cheaper for the royal family. Ferguson received only a fraction of what Diana was given, exiting the marriage with a $3 million settlement. Over $2 million of that was put in a trust for her daughters, leaving just under $1 million for Fergie herself. She was also awarded alimony payments totaling around $24K per year.

Some might think that $3 million wasn't enough, because years after her divorce, Fergie reportedly was close to filing for bankruptcy. She spoke to Harper's Bazaar about her money issues, saying, "I think my financial problems have come from desperately trying to please, from my addiction to approval and to thinking that I'm not worthy, so I have to buy people's love." 

The Duchess has now sorted through her issues and has assured the public they're a thing of the past. She told Harper's Bazaar she's more focused on the positive. "I have a very lucky life," she said. "I'm able to travel. I have great friends who have been very generous. I've got a wonderful family."

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai had to pay his ex-wife $734 million

Most people would be thrilled to receive millions of dollars in a divorce settlement. But even Princess Diana's multi-million dollar cash payout is nothing compared to what Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai was ordered to pay his ex-wife. The sheikh's settlement with Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein cost him $734 million between cash payouts and other expenses. Although that's an unbelievably large amount of money, the sheikh can afford it — he's worth an estimated $14 billion. And thanks to their settlement, his ex-wife is now worth hundreds of millions herself.

As you can imagine, the amounts paid in the settlement were the highest a London court had ever seen from a divorce, and the presiding judge was sure to shed light on the abnormality. Per Al Jazeera, the judge stated that he sought "a conclusion as to what is reasonable while remembering that the exceptional wealth and remarkable standard of living enjoyed by the [ex-couple's] children during the marriage takes this case entirely out of the ordinary." Indeed, a $734 million divorce is indubitably out of the ordinary.

The sheikh had to shell out money for other expenses, too

Apparently, when you have billions of dollars, your divorce settlement doesn't just include money for living expenses. Part of the $734 million settlement between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai and his ex-wife Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein was set aside for normal things that most people need, like education, but some of it was also set aside for things most people don't need, but maybe want: security.

Though untypical, it's reasonable to expect part of the divorce settlement to be set aside for security for the princess and her children — they are royalty, after all. However, security expenses were not the most unusual part of the settlement. Another part of the multi-million dollar agreement was to be used for travel, with several million to be given each year for the family to take vacations and travel by private jet. The settlement also included money for the family to maintain their pets, and it included several thousand dollars for the family to have trampolines. Aside from those arguably more children-focused details, the princess didn't seek much for her own personal expenses.

The sheikh is also responsible for housing payments

When it comes to royal divorce settlements, even the payments for life's necessities, like housing, are astronomical. When Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai and his ex-wife Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein split up, the sheikh was ordered responsible for funding various London homes for the princess, including one the couple owned together and one she inherited from her late father. Between the two properties, the sheikh owed over $13 million to his ex-wife for maintenance and other home-related expenses.

Money wasn't the only thing the sheikh had to relinquish after divorcing his wife. Not long after they had settled their divorce, the princess was granted custody of the children she shares with the sheikh. The decision came because, per the judge, "His Highness's behaviour towards the mother ... whether by threats, poems, coordinating press reports, covertly arranging to purchase property immediately overlooking hers, phone-hacking or in the conduct of this litigation, has been abusive to a high, indeed exorbitant, degree," as reported by Reuters. The outlet also reported that the divorce itself had cost over $86 million in legal fees. To say this was an expensive divorce would be quite an understatement.

Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud fought with his ex-wife over their Beverly Hills mansion

While the sheikh was paying his ex-wife's housing-related costs, another royal from the middle east was fighting with his ex-wife over an exorbitantly priced home. Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and his ex-wife Princess Fahdah Husain Abdulrahman Al-Athel owned an estate in Beverly Hills together, for which they paid nearly $17 million in 2011. Following their divorce, the former couple had to go to court in Delaware because the prince did not want the princess to sell the home without his permission, and because he claimed the LLC they owned owed him $42 million.

The fighting between the prince and his ex-wife didn't end there. A few years later, the couple found themselves in litigation again. They had decided to sell the home, but it required several repairs, all of which neither party was willing to pay. According to documents filed by the princess's legal counsel, "The landscaping is mostly dead, the pool is empty, and the water lines emptied ... Much of the carpeting throughout the property was stained, damaged, or generally unusable," as reported by Bloomberg. Talk about champagne problems.

Janan Harb lost out on $17 million after her marriage to King Fahd bin Abdulaziz al-Saud ended

The fallout of Janan Harb's relationship with King Fahd bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia lasted much longer than their marriage. The two weren't physically together for long — Harb left the country after only two years of marriage due to the relationship souring — but under Sharia law, the couple was still married. Harb returned many years after the King had died to ask his son for money, claiming Fahd had promised to care for her financially for the rest of her life. Harb took Fahd's son to court over this claim, and she was awarded $17 million.

The decision didn't sit well with Fahd's son, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd. He, in return, took Harb to court to appeal the decision, claiming he was not responsible for any such promise his father may have made. The court then sided with the prince, and Harb was no longer owed $17 million. A judge in the case said, "The court has concluded that the shortcomings in the way in which the judge dealt with the evidential issues in the case were so serious that the appeal must be allowed for that reason," as reported by The Guardian. Clearly, even if there isn't a technical divorce, the dissolution of a relationship can be very messy.

Peter Phillips kept his divorce details private

Not all royals are in the business of making their personal lives public, particularly the terms of their divorce settlements. When Peter Phillips divorced his ex-wife, Autumn Phillips, news of their settlement broke, but the terms were kept under wraps. Per the Evening Standard, all the couple announced regarding the terms of their divorce was, "[the] financial aspects of their divorce have been resolved through agreement." A spokesperson for the couple also announced, "Whilst this is a sad day for Peter and Autumn they continue to put the wellbeing and upbringing of their wonderful daughters Savannah and Isla first and foremost."

This is by no means out of the ordinary for royals. Like with other rich and famous couples who divorce, the details of their settlement terms, particularly the financials, are kept private for various reasons. Couples like Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, and Prince Louis of Luxembourg and Tessy Antony de Nassau, have gotten divorced without any specific details of their arrangements being released, much to the dismay of the incredibly nosy public.