World's Richest Royals
World's longest-reigning monarch is revered like a demigod on par with Buddha. U.S.-born, Swiss-educated ruler remains unifying force in an increasingly politically tumultuous state divided among the elite, middle and rural classes.. The declining economy, which slipped into recession in the first quarter, may fuel further tensions. Monarch's wealth is held in trust for the state and includes public investments in companies such as Siam Cement and Siam Commercial Bank as well as vast land holdings, including some 3,500 acres in Bangkok managed by the Crown Property Bureau. Thai government officials stress these holdings are not the king's personal wealth, but held in trust for the state.
The 29th Sultan of Brunei is heir to an unbroken 600-year-old Muslim dynasty. Kingdom's wealth based on extensive petroleum and natural gas fields; also investments made by Brunei Investment Agency, the $30 billion sovereign wealth fund that owns luxury hotels such as London's Dorchester. Continues to battle brother, Prince Jefri, over allegedly misappropriated assets; most recently, the Brunei Investment Agency sought a court order to compel the prince to hand over title to a $100 million mansion in Singapore. The Sultan's 26-year-old son, Prince Azim, fourth-in-line to the throne, quit the U.K.'s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst training course in October after just one week.
President of the UAE and hereditary ruler of its capital emirate, Abu Dhabi. Tanking oil prices and a 50% decline in the country's nascent stock market helped shave $5 billion from the king's fortune. Forced to bail out neighbor Dubai to the tune of $10 billion. Efforts to transform Abu Dhabi into Middle East's cultural epicenter with outposts of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums overshadowed by allegations that the king's half-brother was involved in the torture of an Afghan expat. The Emir has since kicked the accused off his cabinet.
In June, put together lavish reception for U.S. President Barack Obama, presenting him with a gold medallion, Saudi Arabia's highest honor. The pomp overshadowed the country's slumping economy, which has trimmed royal net worth by $4 billion this year. Supports the $27 billion King Abdullah Economic City, a massive 20-year development started in 2006 that the government hopes will become the new industrial hub of the Middle East and a way for the nation to diversify its economy beyond oil. Proactive on peace: last year hosted interfaith dialogues between major political and religious leaders in New York, Mecca and Madrid.
Ruler of Dubai, an emirate of the United Arab Emirates, was forced to ask for a handout from neighbor Abu Dhabi when credit markets tanked. State-owned Dubai World owns DP World Ltd., the third-largest international port operator; Istithmar World, a private equity firm that acquired Barney's New York in 2007; and Nakheel PJSC, builder of palm-shaped islands in the Persian Gulf. Growth of such assets required high level of borrowing; when credit markets contracted, concerns arose about its $80 billion combined government and state-owned company debt. After months of bickering, Abu Dhabi bought $10 billion worth of five-year bonds; a permanent fix is still being hammered out. One of the largest racehorse owners in the world, his Darley Stud owns 68 stallions and operates stables in six countries, including Japan, Australia and the U.S.
Heads 900-year old family and tiny Alpine principality the size of Bermuda.
Last year, his family-owned bank, LGT, was caught up in a tax-evasion scandal for allegedly helping wealthy clients hide assets. In response, negotiating bilateral tax agreements with U.S.. and other countries; bank is now selling controversial trust business. However,
problems persist. His son, Prince Max, who is chief executive of LGT,
is being investigated by the German government for tax evasion; he
disputes the charges. Also owns an estimated 50,000 acres of land
in Austria and several 17th-century palaces as well as a 400-year old
His kingdom's gold is its near monopoly control of the world's phosphate supply; Morocco holds two-thirds of the world's phosphate mines and is the world's biggest exporter of the mineral, which is used in fertilizer. Fortune up thanks to a fivefold increase in phosphate prices over the past several years. Launched construction of an industrial park at Tanger-Med, which when fully completed in 2012 will be among Africa's largest ports. Granted women more rights in 2004. Married Princess Lalla Salma in 2002, the first Moroccan royal wife to be publicly acknowledged and given an official title.
Banking on tiny country's rich gas reserves to support economy in post-oil era. Already the world's largest supplier of liquefied natural gas; has contracts with Korea, Belgium and Taiwan. Plans to double annual LNG exports to 77 million metric tons over the next year. Assumed throne in 1995 after ousting his father in a bloodless coup. Passionate about art, inaugurated I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art last November.
Leads 700-year-old Grimaldi family; reigns over Monaco, which is smaller in area than New York's Central Park. Efforts to expand territory with a new district at sea erected on giant pillars put on hold due to global recession. Downturn has also shaved family fortune, which includes real estate, art, antique cars, stamps and a stake in Monte Carlo's casino, Societe des Bains de Mer. Eligible royal is a committed environmentalist; in January led a two-week expedition to Antarctica to bring attention to global warming, engage in scientific research and support the region as a natural reserve. Bachelor linked romantically to Charlene Wittstock, a South African Olympic swimmer; fathered two illegitimate children, a son with a Togolese flight attendant and a daughter who lives in California
Spiritual leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims chairs the Aga Khan Development Network that promotes investments in Asia and Africa. Horse racing enthusiast owns 900 thoroughbreds at stud farms in Ireland and France; holds stake in Goffs, one of Britain's largest horse auction houses, as well as French horse auction house Arqana. Values down in belt-tightening markets. Awarded titles of Grand Patron and Grand Donor by the French Minister for Culture for his contributions to cultural development in France; also made an honorary citizen of Canada in the past year.
Ascended throne in 1970 after overthrowing his father in a coup d'etat. With oil revenues down, promoting tourism and maritime sectors; more than 700 homes are currently under construction at the Wave, a $2.5 billion mixed-use beachfront development in the country's capital, Muscat. Meanwhile, the giant port and ship-repair yard complex on the sultanate's southeastern coast continues to expand. Avid classical music fan; personally financed restoration of mosques across the country. Graduate of Britain's Sandhurst Military Academy, served in British Infantry before returning to Oman. Divorced, has no children and has not yet named a successor.
Oldest living monarch in British history continues a full schedule of official duties. In April, hosted U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle, who caused a stir when she hugged the queen. Personal fortune hit by declines in English and Scottish properties, stock market fall-off and lower valuations for collections of fine art, gems and stamps. Buckingham Palace, the Crown Jewels and the royal art collection are not included in her net worth, as they belong to the state. Thrifty royal apparently told grandsons William and Harry to rein in spending in tough economic climate. Long-waiting heir, Prince Charles, was reportedly rumored to have been asked to invest with Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff; fortunately for the prince, he declined.
Managing simultaneous political and economic crises in the kingdom: one of the country's biggest banks, Gulf Bank, was the first in the region to need a bailout; the Emir's cabinet resigned in March after five Islamist members of parliament alleged Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser had mismanaged public funds, charges he denied. Sabah dissolved parliament; after new elections, he re-appointed Sheikh Nasser (his nephew) as prime minister. Wealth based on annual stipend actually set by Emir; unique among Gulf states as wealth is not tied to state oil funds.
Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, Netherlands
Fortune: $200 million (down $100 million)
Fortune of Queen Beatrix and her family has been hit by declines in real estate and equities. Also rumored to have lost up to $100 million when Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme collapsed, though the royal house denies the allegations. Narrowly avoided injury in May when a man drove his car into a crowd of parade spectators on Queen's Day, killing eight, including the driver, and almost hitting the open bus in which the queen and her family were riding. Rumored to be considering stepping down so that her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, can ascend the throne.