Royal Life: Riches of Royal Life; the Mail on Sunday Royal Rich Report, Estimates the Queen Is Worth Pounds 1.15 Billion. but Such Figures Are Guesswork as the Queen's Private Finances Are Just That - Private. after All, Would You like Your Bank Balance, Property Values and Investments Published for All to See?

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Byline: Peter Archer

Once she was considered to be the richest woman in Britain and even the world.

But these days the Queen struggles to feature in the top 100 of most of the various - and varied - so-called rich lists compiled for titillation more than information.

But the Queen's personal wealth and the riches she holds as sovereign in trust for successors and the nation are two different things.

If the Royal Collection - an unrivalled cache of art and artefacts - Buckingham Palace, some other royal residences and the Crown Jewels were counted as her own property, the Queen would indeed hold claim to fabulous personal wealth.

Most of her priceless gems, art-world masterpieces or buildings - St James's Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle and Holyroodhouse Palace, Edinburgh as well as Buckingham Palace - are regarded as ''inalienable'' assets, cannot be sold and therefore would not help the Queen out in a liquidity crisis.

As a result she is surpassed in the rich lists by grocers, financiers and entrepreneurs.

According to the latest Sunday Times Rich List, the Queen's private assets stand at pounds 300 million.

The Mail on Sunday Royal Rich Report, estimates the Queen is worth pounds 1.15 billion.

But such figures are guesswork as the Queen's private finances are just that - private.

After all, would you like your bank balance, property values and investments published for all to see?

The Sunday Times reached its estimate by calculating that her share portfolio is worth pounds 90 million, her private art - distinct from the Royal Collection - stamp collection and racehorses pounds 100 million, and Sandringham and Balmoral (which she owns) pounds 75 million, with the balance made up by a range of other property.

Sandringham, the Queen's private estate in Norfolk, has been in the Royal Family for more than a century and has been the home of four generations of sovereigns since Edward VII.

Similarly, Balmoral, in the Scottish Highlands of Aberdeenshire, is the Queen's private property, passed down to monarchs since Queen Victoria who took outright ownership in 1852. Victoria, of course, was given Government money at the time to pay for it after she moved from Osborne.

The Royal Philatelic Collection, founded by the Queen's grandfather George V and housed at St James's Palace, is the finest of its kind, specialising in Great Britain and Commonwealth stamps, and is owned by the Queen personally rather than the nation.

Although racehorses are a less reliable asset, stud fees and occasional winnings help boost private royal funds.

The Queen's private art collection features paintings by contemporary British artists plus pictures by varied painters such as Edward Seago and Salvador Dali.

Income from the Queen's personal investment portfolio is used to meet her private expenditure.

The value of the portfolio is undisclosed, but the Head of the Royal Household, the Lord Chamberlain, said in 1993 that estimates of pounds 100 million and upwards were ''grossly overstated''.

However, royal officials accept that, almost a decade on, the portfolio should have increased in value. …