Royal Roundup - Feature

Royalty has long been associated with lavishness, extravagance, and over the top spending. By virtue of their privileged birth, royals have been custodians of the good life, since they’ve only known of living life with a silver spoon. The European royals tend to be more understated than their Middle Eastern counterparts, but the one who truly takes the cake is Thailand’s Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, whose taste for the high life is unrivalled. Many royals around the world still enjoy their wealth, some more conspicuously than others. But our Indian royals, who were known to be the ultimate connoisseurs of the good life prior to the country’s independence, have had to give up their titles, palaces, privy purses, and other luxuries. Their legacy, however, remains for eternity. Featured here are some royals from across the world whose wealth and elaborate ways of life are endlessly intriguing.      -  Suneela

The Liechtenstein Royals

Hans-Adam II, the Prince of Liechtenstein, has an estimated wealth of $3.5 billion. And although his family is not as conspicuous as the other more well-known royals in the world, it doesn’t change the fact that they are still seriously wealthy. This famous fortune comes from owning the Liechtenstein Global Trust, the largest family-owned private wealth firm in Europe. The family is known to be connoisseurs of art, and Prince Hans-Adam is known for his extravagant collection that is on display in the Liechtenstein Museum.

Saudi Royal Family

Probably the most extravagant of all royals nowadays are the Saudi royal family, which includes thousands of princes and princesses who live a lavish lifestyle. Compared to other royals, the Saudi royal family’s coffers are relatively new; the family derives its magnanimous fortunes from the sale of oil and petroleum reserves that were discovered more than 75 years ago during the reign of King AbdulazizIbn Saud. The really wealthy ones from the family who’re at the top of the spectrum own French chateaus and have the biggest yachts docked on the Mediterranean coast. They have pot loads  of money stashed in Swiss bank accounts, and the demure women wear the most expensive haute couture under their abayas to super-exclusive parties and events.

King Salman has a soft spot for France, with a bunch of fabulous real estate properties in the affluent 16th Arrondissement in Paris. He also possesses a luxury chateau in the south of France, where most billionaires like to have a pied-à-terre, along with a palace in Marbella on the Costa del Sol, called ‘Mar-Mar’.

Another Saudi prince, Al-Waleed Bin Talal, has been summering in Cannes for the past 35 years, and has bought one of the biggest yachts in the world from Donald Trump called “The Kingdom”. It is known to have a discotheque and multiple helipads aboard.

Sometimes, even a Saudi princess can exceed her spending limit. That’s exactly what happened to Princess Maha bint Mohammed bin Ahmad al-Sudairi, who was staying at Paris’s Shangri-La Hotel with a retinue of staff occupying 41 rooms for a few months. When the US$7 million bill was presented to her, she attempted to make a run for it at night, and thought she could get away with it. Who can blame her, since the billionaires had $20 million written off to her name the previous year when she went on a massive shopping spree in Paris at some of the most exclusive boutiques on Avenue Montaigne? The princess apparently had a penchant for expensive lingerie, and spent nearly $200,000 at the O Caprices de Liliboutique, but failed to make the payment after walking out with the fancy attire.

Brunei Royals

Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, has an estimated wealth of $20 billion. The family has a weakness for lavish cars – Rolls-Royces in particular – as they own more than 600 of them in total. His palace, the Istana Nurul Iman, cost him over $350 million to make. Known for his lavish spending, his wealth is a result of oil and gas development in Brunei.

The son of the Sultan of Brunei, one of the world’s richest men, married Dayangku Raabi’atul ‘Adawiyyahbinti Pengiran Haji Bolkiah in a spectacular ceremony at the monarch’s 1,788-room palace in Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. The entire world was spellbound by the opulent displays of wealth and mind-boggling splendour.

The newlyweds wore matching gold outfits embellished with diamonds. While it is generally customary for brides to carry a flower bouquet, this bride defied tradition and carried one made of gems! She also wore a breathtaking diamond tiara studded with six teardrop-shaped emeralds the size of grapes.

Thai Royals

Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, is the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, with an estimated wealth of $30 billion. King Bhumibol’s massive fortune is managed by the Crown Property Bureau, and it includes over 3,000 acres of land in central Bangkok as well as shares in Siam Cement and Siam Commercial Bank. The King also has a thing for diamonds, and he owns the 545-carat Golden Jubilee Diamond – the largest cut and faceted diamond in the world.

Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn is known to be an eccentric and rather lavish royal who had a love for the good life in Europe. He has a taste for lavish private jets, fast cars, and women, which have all caused considerable anxiety in the kingdom. Unfortunately, he’s had quite the stormy life with his lovers, some of which has been dramatically on display in public. His only recognised daughter, Sirivannavari  Nariratana, is seen at all the haute couture shows of Paris, sitting front row, and is known to be one of the most loyal clients of the couture houses of Europe.

Al- Thani Royal Family

According to Forbes, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar and member of the Al Thani Qatari royal family, had an estimated wealth of $2.4 billion in 2011. His lavish wealth is the outcome of him establishing the Qatar Investment Authority, which manages the country’s excess oil and gas reserves. Sheik Hamad also helped establish the first Arab global news network – Al Jazeera – by loaning about $137 million to support the organisation. His wife Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser is one of the most stylish royals in the world, spending millions every year on her official wardrobe. She is always seen in customised outfits by some of the world’s most famous haute couture houses. The family is also said to be the custodian of some of the most famous and expensive art and jewellery pieces anywhere, purchased at various auctions over the years.

Dubai Royals

According to Forbes, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the Emir Sheikh of Dubai, has an estimated wealth of $4 billion. Sheikh Mohammed is extremely philanthropic; his charitable donations include a gift of $10 million in 2007 to set up the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation. The main goal of his foundation is to empower future generations to develop sustainable solutions in the Arab world.

The wedding of the current Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his wife, Princess Salama, holds a Guinness World Record for the most expensive wedding. The event costed $137 million, making it the most lavish and luxurious wedding in the world, and it was also declared a national holiday in Dubai to honour the ruler’s wedding. The sheikh personally fed the locals by visiting every town in the Emirate on horseback during the week of his wedding. Another highlight was the 20 bejewelled camels that were incharge of delivering the bridal party gifts.

Monaco Royals

The Monaco royals are among the best looking royal families of the world. This is not all that surprising considering that the famous Hollywood star Grace Kelly married Prince Rainer of Monaco. All the women in the family are spitting images of a superstar, and have the grace and charm to add. Princess Charlotte Casiraghi is an ambassador for Gucci, and is often seen with her sisters-in-law Beatrice Borromeo and Tatiana Casiraghi at the best balls and parties around the world, dressed in mind-blowing haute couture creations.

Albert II, the Prince of Monaco, has an estimated wealth of $1 billion, which primarily consists of holdings in the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, a company that manages the riches of the Monte Carlo Casino and Opéra de Monte-Carlo. The Monaco royals might be the most glamorous, but they are also extremely understated compared to their Middle Eastern counterparts. They are known for their subtle sense of luxury and innate grace and charisma.