Being royal and rich doesn’t mean throwing money away. Queen Elizabeth came of age during the Great Depression and World War II. She learned how to reuse things and cut down on costs. And now she’s passed a lot of those frugal behaviors down to the other royals.
The royal family’s expenses are paid by the British taxpayer, so the monarchs are cautious about how much they spend and on what. They don’t want to anger the public by wasting money on a lot of extravagances. Sure, there are some things about royal life that are expensive (the jewelry, the wardrobes, the dinner parties, the palace heating bills. But whenever they can, the royals try to be thrifty for the sake of their pockets — and the taxpayers.
Here are 15 ways the royals try to pinch pennies.
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The Queen Used Ration Coupons for Her Wedding
The World War II shortages affected then-Princess Elizabeth’s 1947 nuptials to Prince Philip. She had to save ration coupons in order to get fabric for her dress. In the end, she wore a beautiful wedding gown complete with a long veil embroidered with flowers. It must have taken a lot of coupons to pay for something so stunning.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
According to Express, the Queen has a waste-not, want-not mentality with everything in life. For example, she was recycling before it was cool, taking old newspapers and shredding them to be used for her horses’ stable bedding. If recycling is good enough for the Queen of England, it should be good enough for the rest of us.
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They Eat Leftovers
From 1989 until 2000, chef Carolyn Robb cooked for Prince Charles and his family. She later told Racked that Charles never wasted any of the food she made. "The prince was very economical," she said. "If there were leftovers, they’d be used one way or another. If not for him, then rehashed and used for a meal the following day. If we made roasted lamb and there were leftovers, we’d probably go and make shepherd’s pie the next night."
Keeping the Palace Energy Efficient
The Buckingham Palace energy bill is estimated to add up to more than $1 million each year. But the Queen does everything she can to keep that number low. According to Express, she only uses 40-watt lightbulbs, and she turns lights off in any rooms she’s not using. Imagine what her energy bill would be if she wasn’t so thrifty!?
Princess Anne’s Travel Hack
Like her mother, Princess Anne is frugal. She once saved $50 on a trip because she downgraded from a sea-view room to a regular one. Since she was arriving at night and unable to see the ocean, she wasn’t going to pay $50 extra for it. If you’re ever trying to save cash on vacation, ask for a cheaper hotel room.
No Big Gambling
The royal family members often attend horse races, but they’re not laying down any big money on the winner. In 2018, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, spent a whole $8 betting on horses at Royal Ascot. She put $2 down on four different horses. It was probably for the best she didn’t spend more, because she didn’t win.
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No Makeup Artist Needed
Kate Middleton spent most of her life being a regular person, so she learned how to do her makeup on her own. As a result, she’s continued to do it on many occasions. She even did her own makeup look for her wedding, of all days. She used affordable products, with the most expensive one being $48.
They All Rewear Clothing
The royals have the wardrobe budget to rock a new look every time they go to an event, but they don’t. All of the family members recycle their outfits from time to time. The Duchess of Cambridge is particularly good at this, because she’ll often add an accessory or something to make the second wear look brand new, even though it’s the same item.
Including Hand-Me-Downs for the Kids
The outfit recycling isn’t just for the adults. The royal children get hand-me-downs just like regular kids do. And some of theirs are really old. Prince Louis’ 2019 Trooping the Colour outfit was Prince Harry’s when he was a kid. That’s a hand-me-down from the ’80s that the royals kept for 30 years. Frugal level: expert.
They Don’t Always Buy Designer
Although Kate does enjoy her designer dresses, many pieces in her wardrobe are more affordable. She often mixes in looks from Zara, Topshop, and other mainstream brands that everyday fans can buy. This polka dot dress was a Topshop piece that cost $50. It sold out almost instantly after she wore it.
They Still Use Corded Phones
It’s still the ’90s in the royal homes, because most of them use corded phones for their calls. According to royal expert Phil Dampier, this may be something they’ve all learned from the Queen, who’s probably used the same phone for decades. "The Queen doesn’t believe in change for change’s sake and if she is comfortable with something she keeps using it for years," he said. The old phones work, so they stay.
The Queen Saves Wrapping Paper
Give the Queen a gift, and there’s a good chance she’ll save the paper and ribbon to use on someone else’s present. This is totally a Depression/World War II-era way of thinking, and it’s completely in line with who the Queen is. If the wrapping paper is still good, why not reuse it? We also love saving the gift bags we get.
Kate & William Have Ikea Furniture
According to the Mirror, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were on a trip to Sweden, they revealed that they have some of the country’s iconic Ikea furniture in their kids’ rooms. The company’s head of design, Marcus Engman, told the outlet that he was proud that Ikea is used by all kinds of families. "We can suit everybody," he said. "That’s what we want Ikea to be — for the many people of the world, both royalty and ordinary people."
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Prince Charles Mends His Clothes
OK, he doesn’t mend them himself, but he does send his items for repairs to keep his clothes wearable for as long as possible. "I’m lucky because I can find marvelous people who are brilliant makers of the things that I appreciate," he told Vogue UK of his sense of style. "Because of that, I try to keep [the items] going for longer."
When conducting official royal business or traveling with the kids, the royals do often use private jets as transportation. But when flying solo, they’ll occasionally fly coach. Both Prince Harry and Prince William have been spotted flying commercial over the years. But we wouldn’t blame them if they stuck with private completely. It seems like a much more fun way to travel.