Queen Elizabeth does not even make it to the list – These are 5 of the richest queens who ever lived and their net worths today – The mighty Saudi Royal family’s wealth falls short when compared to Russia’s ‘Catherine the great’ who is on the number 2 spot.

Hatshepsut, Catherine the Great, Empress Wu, Isabella of Spain and Cleopatra were the five richest queens in history ... so how much would they have had in the bank today? Photos: Handout; Mary Evans Picture Library; @queen_isabella_of_spain/Instagram; @Egypteinsolite, @lifeofcleopatra/Twitter


The wealthiest female monarch in the world right now is also the only reigning queen left after Queen Elizabeth died in September.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is a lone wolf in the competition, as her other current female contenders were all queen consorts who married into royalty.

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe waves as she arrives at the city hall in Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 12, before celebrations of the queen’s 50th ruler jubilee. Photo: EPA-EFE

But the chain-smoking Danish blue-blood, who recently stripped her grandkids of their royal titles, stands strong on the throne with a net worth of US$40 million, according to the Guinness World Records. Although this fortune is not bad for us “common folk”, it’s a far cry from Queen Elizabeth’s US$600 million net worth before her death. The figure is even more of a shock when compared with the world’s richest royals, Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who has a US$43 billion stack, and Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who sits on US$28 billion, per TBS News.

But if we go back in time, some of history’s greatest queens ruled above and beyond today’s richest royal bank accounts when factoring in the power, land, salt and gold they accumulated during their reigns. It’s important to note, however, that the further we go back in history, the harder it is to agree on such figures since wealth was measured differently back then. Much of what’s estimated today is often debated among historians.

The late Queen Elizabeth wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. Photo: Garrard

So, from the imperial Chinese dynasty to ancient Egypt, here are five of the richest queens in history (factoring in inflation), according to Money.com estimations. And no, even Queen Elizabeth doesn’t make the cut.

Statues of Hatshepsut, Egypt’s longest-ruling indigenous female pharaoh. Photo: Handout

5. Hatshepsut (1507BC-1458BC) – estimated net worth today: at least US$2 billion
Rising to the throne after the death of her husband (and half-brother), Hatshepsut’s two decades of rule proved to be an extremely lucrative one, suggest several historians.


Although it’s difficult to calculate Egypt’s first female pharaoh’s exact net worth, it’s said that her control over the mines of gold, copper and precious stones put her in second place among the richest queens in history, per Money.com. The gold mines alone would be worth around US$2 billion today, said the source.

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Queen Isabella of Spain controversially married her cousin and gained even more power. Photo: @queen_isabella_of_spain/Instagram

5. Isabella of Castile (1451-1504) – estimated net worth today: US$5 billion
The Spanish queen was at the peak of her wealth when she expanded her empire by marrying her cousin, Ferdinand II of Aragon. Together, they transformed Spain into a major European powerhouse and, in return, gained gigantic wealth that allowed them to live lavishly with precious jewels and tapestries.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Isabella had an annual income of 1.45 million ducats – the gold coin currency at the time – until her death in 1504. If we calculate that in today’s money, brace yourself for the following mathematical nightmare: the source estimates that 1,000 ducats is equal to 110.7 ounces of gold. Gold is currently US$1,230 per ounce. If she was making 1.45 million ducats a year, it translates to around US$5 billion, when you factor in her 30-year reign.

A black basalt statue of Cleopatra VII stands in the British Museum in central London, in 2001. Photo: Reuters

4. Cleopatra VII (69BC-30BC) – estimated net worth today: US$96 billion
Cleopatra VII is one of the most famous historical figures in existence, ruling Egypt between 51BC and 30BC, per BBC.

Her reportedly cunning tactics in political manipulation enabled her to continue capitalising on her wealth and empire, which included controlling the nation’s most prosperous industries in wheat, papyrus and unguents, per Money.com.

Elizabeth Taylor is shown in a close-up, in costume and make-up, in a scene from Cleopatra in 1962. Photo: Corbis

It’s said that the multilingual pharaoh was famed for her exotic beauty. She also had romantic liaisons and military alliances with Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, according to History.com. Her astute leader skills helped bring peace to a nation that had been previously split by bankruptcy and war, reported the BBC.

That being said, despite Cleopatra’s estimated US$96 billion net worth, the ruler reportedly borrowed heavily from other foreign leaders and wasn’t able to always live so lavishly herself.

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Catherine the Great is said to have ruled during Russia’s “golden age”. Photo: Handout

2. Catherine the Great (1729-1796) – estimated net worth today: US$1.5 trillion
Ruling at a time that’s been heralded as the “golden age of Russia”, Catherine the Great was a powerful monarch who transformed the nation into a global superpower during the 18th century, according to Sky History. She still holds the title today as the longest-reigning woman in Russian history, helming about five per cent of the global GDP at the time thanks to her wealth of land.

Helen Mirren playing Catherine the Great. Photo: HBO

During her time on the throne, she survived multiple attempted uprisings and accumulated a fortune that’s estimated to be worth US$1.5 trillion today, per Money.com.

Empress Wu Zetian. Photo: Handout

1. Empress Wu (624-705) – estimated net worth today: US$16 trillion
Coming in strong with a US$16 trillion estimated net worth, China’s Empress Wu of the Tang dynasty is argued to be the richest female monarch in history, according to Money.com.

Her colossal fortune, however, is said to have stemmed from a blood-soaked, scheming rise to power. According to historians, she was ruthless in her ways and, reportedly, even murdered one of her own children. She’s also said to have deposed her sons who were emperors before her, although considering this was so long ago, it’s difficult to verify which events really took place.

Fan Bingbing portrays Empress Wu in the Empress of China TV series, which aired in 2015. Photo: Hunan TV

The well-educated empress and her life story has been portrayed in many films and TV shows over the years, including 2015’s Empress of China starring Fan Bingbing.

Under Wu’s 15-year reign, she helped to expand the nation’s empire into central Asia and saw its economy prosper with the trading of tea and silk with Western countries on the Silk Road, as reported by The China Project.

Today, she remains a controversial figure for some, but is widely considered to have made a significant contribution in supporting the country’s growth at the time.

Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.

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