Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past few months, you cannot have failed to notice that in London, this Friday, a boy named Will is getting hitched to a girl named Kate, and the World will be glued to their television sets to witness it.
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
But Friday is just the beginning. Kate has been dating Prince William for some time now, and will have some idea of what she is getting herself into. But what can she expect her financial life to look like as Britain's future Queen?
Will Kate Be Overwhelmed By the Royal Wealth?
"The Prince will marry the pauper," or at least that's what people are suggesting. A Royal has fallen for a commoner - blue-blooded William and "just plain Kate."
But the reality is quite far from this. Although a "commoner," Kate Middleton's family is financially very well off. Kate's parents have built up a comfortable nest egg from a successful online party business, Party Pieces - established in 1987. (Don't hesitate to adopt a smart plan for you and your employees, check out Plans The Small-Business Owner Can Establish.)
The income has contributed to a lifestyle that includes a £1m (US $1.6 million) house in a desirable part of England and the funds to put their three children (Kate, Pippa and James) through some of the most expensive private schools in Britain, which for Kate alone would have cost an estimated £250,000.
If and when William becomes King, then Kate's income will take on a new dimension. The Queen's own assets are estimated at £290m (US $479 million), according to the Sunday Times Rich List. So in this respect, the wealth Kate has experienced in her formative years is a far cry of what is yet to come. (For more on how to be ready for education expenses, check out A 529 Plan Fit For An Ivy League Education.)
Who's Paying For Kate's Wedding?
Formal etiquette dictates that the family of the bride should pay for the wedding, but matters are somewhat complicated when you are marrying the future King.
The Royal Family will pay for the wedding. However, Kate's family will make a private contribution to the day, and the Government and U.K. taxpayers will pay for all consequential costs.
Will Kate Have Her Own Money?
It is unlikely that Kate will have to sacrifice her own savings and bank account once married, and she will most likely retain autonomy in this area. Kate's future grandmother-in-law, the Queen herself, has her own funds and finances. (Don't say "I do" to years of debt. We'll show you how to have fairy tale wedding on a frugal budget, see Have A Princess Wedding On A Pauper Budget.)
It has long been suggested that the Queen never carries cash or credit cards, as she has assistants who make all required purchases for her. However, if any member of the Royal Family finds themselves short of cash, there is always a handy ATM inside Buckingham Palace - for the exclusive Coutts Bank, of course!
Will Kate Have a Job?
It is unlikely that Kate will undertake any paid employment once she and William marry. Until recently, she was working for the family firm after a brief post-graduate foray into the outside world working for upmarket clothes store, Jigsaw.
She is a clearly a bright lady, but at age of 29, the future Queen of England has rather a thin CV for an A-grade Marlborough educated pupil who gained a 2:1 (approximately a 3.2 GPA on the four-point scale) in History of Art from St Andrew's University. (Sometimes a one-week vacation isn't enough. Learn the pros and cons of an extended break in Rejuvenate Your Life And Career With A Sabbatical.)
However, Kate will be taking on the full-time job of being the wife of Prince William, which is likely to occupy all of her time and energy. Catherine Oxenburgh, daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, said of Kate working, "she most likely will not have a job... She will write a lot of thank-you notes, she will do a lot of ribbon cutting, she will receive dignitaries and appear on behalf of her selected charities. Basically, she will be a public servant with a lot of perks."
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics - Mistakes To Avoid
Will Kate Be Free to Spend Money as She Chooses?
The Royal Family must be very careful how they are seen to be spending money, as their public engagements are funded by U.K. taxpayer's money. Their fund is called the Civil List and major royals get payments from it to cover their expenses.
Kate does of course enjoy shopping, and just last week she was spotted on the fashionable Kings Road in London - no doubt stocking up her honeymoon wardrobe. The Queen-in-waiting wandered down the shopping street like any ordinary bride-to-be, with just one bodyguard for protection.
Only time will tell if her public shopping trips continue post-nuptials, but in the face of the recession Great Britain is suffering from, Kate would be wise to be seen being careful with money. The Queen has encouraged members of the Royal Family to show support to the people during this economic downturn. Through her reign she has been renowned for extolling the virtues of frugality, and stated she would avoid any public displays of extravagance amid growing unemployment and financial strife.
In fact, the Queen is so frugal that she even collected coupons towards the cost of her own wedding dress. (The Oracle of Omaha has a net worth in the billions, but his lifestyle is not as rich as you may think, read Warren Buffett's Frugal, So Why Aren't You?)
The Bottom Line
In order to continue to hold the respect and affection of the British people, Kate would do well to learn lessons of thrift from her Grandmother-in-law. Kate's life will definitely change once she marries Prince William, but only time will tell how much it affects her financially