McDonald’s restaurants, Starbucks stores, and lingerie shops are among the unexpected properties now owned by King Charles III.
The Crown Estate, which generates profits for the UK Treasury, is owned by the reigning monarch and control was passed down from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III upon her death.
The Crown Estate’s properties are collectively worth £15.6 billion($17.7 billion). As well as vast areas of farmland, seabed, and coastline, the Crown Estate also own large swathes of retail properties, meaning that the king owns things like McDonald’s restaurants and a handful of Starbucks sites.
The King is not involved in management decisions relating to the estate, unlike his own private assets, which include Balmoral and Sandringham, two royal residences.
The Crown Estate says that outside of London it has a £1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) regional retail portfolio with more than seven million square feet of space, made up of 17 retail parks and shopping malls located in or near cities including Leeds, Liverpool, and Oxford.
And within London, it has owns 10 million square feet of office, retail, dining, leisure, and residential space, which the Crown Estate says makes it one of the West End’s largest property owners. This property is worth around £7.7 billion ($8.8 billion), it says.
Across its retail parks and shopping malls outside of London, the Crown Estate rents out space to seven McDonald’s restaurants, four Starbucks stores, and five Subway stores. Other US fast-food giants with a presence include Pizza Hut, KFC, Five Guys, and Burger King.
The retailer with the biggest presence is clothing and homewares store Next, operating 13 locations across the 17 sites.
The sites also include 10 stores operated by British retail giant Marks & Spencers and six operated by Irish fast-fashion company Primark. Lingerie and sex-toy shop Ann Summers also has a store at the Westgate shopping mall in Oxford, as does Victoria’s Secret.
Other stores include across the Crown Estate’s portfolio Pandora, Apple, TK Maxx, Urban Outfitters, Build-a-Bear, Peloton, and Vans. Across the sites there are also cinemas and bowling alleys.
The retail parks and shopping malls feature very different stores to those on London’s Regent Street, which is home to many high-end stores and is fully managed by the Crown Estate.
In a policy document, the Crown Estate says that all retailers on the street are expected to meet the Regent Street brand of “quality, heritage, style, and success” and to have their UK flagship store on that street.
The Crown Estate also has a comprehensive list of businesses which aren’t allowed to operate on the street, including night clubs, betting shops, casinos, sex shops, charity shops, travel agencies, discount stores, hair salons, tattoo parlors, grocery stores, and cafes.