Maintaining The British Royals' Castles Is A Costly Expense

It's a castle, so upkeep is bound to be expensive, but just how costly might surprise you. Especially considering that the British royal family owns quite a lot of estates. It's unlike the fairy tales where the king and queen have just one palace to maintain. Instead, the British royal family owns 30 homes. Not all are castles, but they are close enough; one (Buckingham Palace) has 78 bathrooms alone. And you know a speck of dust or the tiniest splotch of toothpaste simply won't do. Staff are enlisted to help keep the castles sparkling. 

Hello! magazine reports that the "master of the household," who is responsible for the housekeeping and kitchen staff as well as handling event management, makes a six-figure salary annually. But the employees they oversee are often paid much less, with cleaners reportedly earning as little as £11,300 (14,386.65 USD) to begin with, for instance. However, when you consider that there are around 800 cleaners employed to take care of royal residences like Buckingham Palace, that relatively small wage adds up.

Paying for staff to sweep the carpets — yes, sweep, "lest royal ears are offended by vacuum cleaners," as the 2011 documentary "Royal Servants" detailed (via Hello! magazine) — as well as clean windows, prepare meals, and the list goes on, can be quite expensive. Plus, you must consider that the grounds also require regular maintenance, like one of Windsor Castle's most prized features — the secret garden. And that's just the day-to-day upkeep.

What about maintaining royal castles?

Windsor Castle has been a residence of the royal family for close to 1,000 years. Most of the homes on American renovation shows hover around 100 years old and need quite a tune-up, so we can only imagine the refurbishments that go on in British royal castles. Buckingham Palace, which King Charles III will presumably have to move back into eventually, is currently undergoing an estimated 10-year renovation at a cost of around $500 million. 

The "reservicing," as the Brits call it, is necessary to update the infrastructure of the building, which hasn't been done since the '50s. Many castles are quite aged, so pricey renovations are commonplace when owning one. Royal residences can undergo refurbishment when they change hands too. 

People noted that when apartment 1A in Kensington Palace went from Princess Margaret's home to the abode of the Prince and Princess of Wales, $7.2 million was needed to overhaul the space for them. Similarly, Anmer Hall, said to be the couple's favorite residence, got its own $2.5 million redo. Between repairs, renovations, and run-of-the-mill upkeep, royal palaces rack up some hefty bills.

How do the royals afford it all?

The simple answer is that it's complicated. After all, they're royals, meaning they've amassed considerable wealth without necessarily having to work. However, because they're not earning a paycheck (in the most basic sense), one would think their fortune would run out at some point. It doesn't because their earnings come from both public and private funds. The royal family holds a lot of real estate, has a swoon-worthy inheritance, and many assets to their name. 

On top of that, they earn annual income from taxpayers from the Sovereign Grant. It affords them a percentage of the earnings from a lucrative group of high-earning properties and farms worth hundreds of millions of pounds annually, known as the Crown Estate, per CNN. These earnings are a sort of royal payment for their duties as well. Additional investments and properties generate money, too, like the Duchy of Cornwall and the Privy Purse. 

The Keeper of the Privy Purse is generally considered to be the highest-paid royal employee, earning about £180,000 (229,756.50 USD), according to Insider. Some estimate that the late queen was only a millionaire. At the same time, the royal family as a whole are billionaires — to the tune of $28 billion. It's all very convoluted, but we do know those 78 bathrooms aren't going to clean themselves, meaning they have to pay someone to do it!