The Daily Shot, Ricochet, June 28, 2017

Word came down yesterday that Queen Elizabeth II is getting an 8 percent increase in her budget. Something called the Sovereign Grant, which pays for her travel, household, and palace upkeep, will be increasing by £6 million for 2018-2019. Sir Alan Reid, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, likened the annual cost per person in Britain to that of a stamp and said that the cost of the Queen’s labor services “represents excellent value for money.”

Wait, the Queen is like one of the richest people in the world. Isn’t she like a billionaire? Why is the government cutting her a check? First, no, she’s not a billionaire. Her personal fortune is something like $490 million. While we agree that’s nothing to sniff at, she’s not a billionaire and isn’t one of the richest people on the planet. She owns a castle, a big estate, some stamps, some art, and lots and lots of hats.

Then there’s also something called the Crown Estate. That’s a corporation sole (basically a one-person corporation) belonging to whomever is on the throne. It owns a lot of stuff: property holdings, including in central London, two million acres of land, various traditional holdings and rights, a park, a racecourse, as well as gold and silver mines.

All that is worth $15.8 billion, but it doesn’t belong to her personal estate, nor does she control how it’s managed, and she can’t sell it off. It’s the sovereign’s public estate. Revenue from those holdings go right into the UK treasury for the benefit of the nation. That’s where the cash we’re talking about comes from. Since 2011, the Queen gets the Sovereign Grant based on the profits of the Crown Estate.

So, in short: No, Queen Elizabeth is not a billionaire. But, yes, she is a shapeshifting space lizard.