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Meet the world's richest royals

Last updated on: May 10, 2011 09:57 IST

Meet the world's richest royals

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On April 29, Kate Middleton ceased to be a commoner as she married into one of the oldest royal families still in existence.

As the English royal family fulfilled its ceremonial role, the whole world tuned in to see the modern-day fairy tale, and giving every commoner a glimpse of their private lives, even as Prince William and Kate Middleton tied the knot.

So, as the royalty saga continues, it is worth to take a look at the world's richest surviving royal families, who still command significant power and resources.

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Photographs: Kieran Doherty/Reuters
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King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand
Fortune: $30 billion
Age: 81 years

At the age of 81, he is the world's longest-reigning monarch, and is almost revered like a demigod, almost on par with Buddha. This United States-born, Swiss-educated ruler is also the richest monarch.

Further, he remains a 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.

According to Forbes, most of Bhumibol's fortune is built through investments in native Thaibusinesses like Siam Cement and Siam Commercial Bank.

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Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei
Fortune: $20 billion
Age: 62

This 29th Sultan of Brunei is heir to an unbroken 600-year-old Muslim dynasty. Petroleum and natural gas fields help the kingdom draw maximum wealth.

In addition to this, investments have been made to an amount of $30 billion sovereign wealth fund, which owns luxury hotels such as London's Dorchester.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Fortune: $18 billion
Age: 87

The stability of Saudi Arabia is of global importance since the kingdom sits on more than a fifth of oil reserves. It is also home to the biggest Arab stock market, and a major owner of dollar assets and acts as a regional linchpin of U.S. security policy.

This absolute ruler of desert kingdom also contains two holiest sites in Islam. The state-owned oil producer Saudi Aramco has reserves of 266 billion barrels, or one-fifth of planet's known supply.

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Photographs: Saudi Press Agency/Reuters
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President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan
Fortune: $ 15 billion
Age: 58

He took over as ruler of Abu Dhabi, part of the United Arab Emirates, in November 2004 after his father's death; and was elected as the United Arab Emirates' President at the same time.

It is estimated that most of his family's wealth comes from its take of the emirate's oil wealth.

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Photographs: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters
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Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein
Fortune: $5 billion
Age: 64

The royal family of Liechtenstein - 900-year old family - led by reigning Prince Hans-Adam II, has the unique distinction of having a country named after it.

It also has more wealth than any other royal dynasty in Europe. Prince Hans-Adam II, his three siblings and their children own 100 per cent of LGT  Bank, worth nearly $2.6 billion.

They also have an estimated $1.4 billion invested in the Princely Fund, created by the bank in 1998.

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Photographs: Reuters
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King Mohammed VI, Morocco
Fortune: $2.5 billion
Age: 45

Groomed for "kingship", as his late father King Hassan II referred to his upbringing, Mohammed VI became monarch in 1999.

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.

King Mohammed VI initiated political and economic changes and an investigation into human rights abuses during his father's rule.

The king says the fight against poverty is a priority, earning him the name "guardian of the poor".

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Photographs: Ludovic/Pool/Reuters
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Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar
Fortune: $2.4 billion
Age: 57

Sheikh Hamad's kingdom banks on a 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.

He assumed the throne in 1995 after ousting his father in a bloodless coup. Since coming to power, Sheikh Hamad has stayed on as head of the armed forces and defence minister and has overseen Qatar's military development.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Prince Albert II, Monaco
Fortune: $1 billion
Age: 51

Prince Albert II and his fianc Charlene Wittstock, who attended the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey, are all set to getting married in July another royal wedding to light up 2011.

Prince Albert II, Monaco 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.

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Image: Prince Albert II and his fianc Charlene Wittstock
Photographs: Reuters
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Prince Karim Al Husseini, Aga Khan
Fortune: $800 million
Age: 74

Prince Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of 15 million Ismaili Muslims. He also chairs the Aga Khan Development Network that promotes investments in Asia and Africa.

This 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.

In 1969, he donated his palace to India in the honor of Mahatma Gandhi and the Gandhian philosophy.

The palace, located in Pune, India was built in 1892. The main aim behind construction of the Aga Khan palace was to provide employment to local people hard-hit by famine.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman
Fortune: $700 million
Age: 68

Sultan Qaboos seized power in a coup against his father, Said Bin Taimur, in 1970. He opened up Oman after years of isolationism.

As sultan, he took on the role of prime minister and heads the foreign, defence and finance ministries.

His policies have proved popular in spite of the lack of a democratic government. He instigated the use of oil revenues to develop the country's infrastructure and modernised the government structure.

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.

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Photographs: Fadi Al-Assaad/Reuters
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Queen Elizabeth II, UK
Fortune: $450 million
Age: 85

She has served as the queen for 59 years, having ascended the throne when she was just 25. This also makes Prince Charles as the longest-serving heir to the throne.

British monarch's personal fortune is 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.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah, Kuwait
Fortune: $400 million
Age: 80

Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah is 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 wealth based on annual stipend actually set by Emir; unique among Gulf states as wealth is not tied to state oil funds.

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Photographs: Eric Thayer/Reuters
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Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, Netherlands
Fortune: $200 million
Age: 71

Fortune of Queen Beatrix and her family has been hit by declines in real estate and equities.

It is also rumored to have lost up to $100 million, when Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme collapsed, though the royal house denies any allegations with the scheme.

Queen Beatrix is rumoured to be considering stepping down so that her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, can ascend the throne.

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Photographs: Reuters
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King Mswati III, Swaziland
Fortune: $100 million
Age: 42

Africa's last absolute monarch, Swaziland's King Mswati III, has been in trouble for his lavish lifestyle. In fact, he has enraged his impoverished nation by enjoying a lifestyle of unchecked luxury, while demanding salary cuts from civil servants.

King Mswati assumed the throne at the age of 18, and has a penchant for fast cars, luxury palaces and extravagant parties.

Mswati is, like the country he rules, a curious mix of traditional African and modern Western influences. He has embraced Western-style market-driven economic policies, but has refused to loosen the monarchy's grip on power.


Photographs: Reuters
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