Why the Queen Mother left Prince Harry more money than Prince William

By @chelean on
The Queen Mother is joined by her great grandsons Prince William (R) and Prince Harry
The Queen Mother is joined by her great grandsons Prince William (R) and Prince Harry as the Royal family gather to celebrate her 99th birthday, August 4. Reuters/Dylan Martinez

When the Queen Mother died in 2002, she left her entire estate to her only surviving daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. Her great-grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry got their shares, too, but Harry got more than his older brother. It’s not because she favoured one over the other, though.

A few weeks after her death on March 30, 2002, the Buckingham Palace announced the content of her will. Unexpectedly, she bequeathed her entire estate to the Queen. Her estimated £70 million (approximately AU$121 million in today’s money) included artworks and house contents. There were paintings, a Faberge egg collection, jewellery, china and horses. While the Queen was exempt from paying inheritance tax on the estate, those left to staff and other family would be taxed, reported BBC.

“Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother has bequeathed her entire estate (which mainly comprises the contents of her houses) to the Queen,” a spokesman from the palace said. “In her will, she asked the Queen to make certain bequests to members of her staff and these will be subject to Inheritance Tax in the normal way.”

The inheritance from a sovereign to sovereign or the consort of a sovereign — which, in this case, was the Queen Mother — to a reigning monarch — Queen Elizabeth — is exempt from the 40 percent tax above a £250,000 (AU$433,000) threshold. Then-Prime Minister John Major approved this in 1993 “in recognition of the need for the sovereign to avoid erosion of the Royal Family’s wealth,” the BBC said.

The publication added that the Queen Mother put aside two-thirds of her money into a trust fund for her great-grandchildren, including William and Harry. The two princes’ share was reportedly about £14 million (AU$24.25 million) from the estate, but the bulk of the cash would go to Harry.

Prince Harry, 10, leads his great grandmother the Queen Mother by the hand as she returns into Clarence House August 4. Prince Harry, 10, leads his great grandmother the Queen Mother by the hand as she returns into Clarence House August 4.  Reuters/Dylan Martinez The Queen Mother, accompanied by the Princess of Wales and her six year old son Prince Harry The Queen Mother, accompanied by the Princess of Wales and her six year old son Prince Harry, ride during the Trooping the Colour ceremony on June 15, 1991 in LONDON.  Reuters/Jonathan Bainbridge

It wasn’t because the Duke of Sussex was closer to the Queen Mother than William was. It’s because the Duke of Cambridge would become king one day, and therefore a lot richer than Harry.

When their father, Prince Charles, becomes king, William will become the new Prince of Wales. He will then take on the Duchy of Cornwall, a private estate funding the public, charitable and private activities of the heir to the throne. Harry, who was born third in line to the throne but has since been bumped down to sixth by his nephews and niece, will not be covered by the Duchy of Cornwall.

The Queen Mother (2R) waves to crowds outside Clarence House accompanied by her grandson the Prince of Wales (L) and her great grandsons Princes Harry and William. The Queen Mother (2R) waves to crowds outside Clarence House accompanied by her grandson the Prince of Wales (L) and her great grandsons Princes Harry and William.  Reuters/Simon Kreitem

The Queen Mother’s death also meant Charles had to move from his residence in St James’s Palace to Clarence House, her former London home. His younger brother Prince Andrew, Duke of York, then left Sunningham Park for his new residence in Royal Lodge, the Queen Mother’s former Windsor residence.

The Queen Mother died just a few weeks after her younger daughter, Princess Margaret, passed away on Feb. 9, 2002.

 

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