HR & Management

Royal business: Meet the world's entrepreneurs with blue blood

10 min read

11 April 2013

Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, referred to the Royal Family as "the Firm", and why not? The Queen owns possibly the largest real estate business in the world. But she isn't the only royal to have jumped onto the entrepreneur bandwagon.

There is a belief that being royalty means doing nothing else but shaking hands with world leaders. Nowadays most of us doubt the reason behind having ruling figures, and most countries have scrapped official royalty altogether. 

So what are the attention-starved royals who are still wandering the world’s palaces to do? They have to pave their own way into the spotlight through means other than titles. Many of them knew this could mean only one thing; and jumped onto the entrepreneur bandwagon. I guess they never had trouble looking for funding…

British Royal Family

Since founding The Prince’s Trust in 1976, HRH Charles, Prince of Wales has established sixteen more charitable organisations. He launched Duchy Originals in 1990, of which the profits are donated to The Prince’s Charities. In 2007, Charles launched The Prince’s May Day Network, which encourages businesses to take action on climate change.

In 1993, HRH Edward, Earl of Wessex formed Ardent Productions but in 2002 the Prince announced that he would step down to concentrate on his public duties and to support the Queen during her Golden Jubilee year.

In a visit to Lesotho, HRH Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, launched Sentebale, a charity to aid children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

HRH Prince Michael manages his own consultancy business, and undertakes business throughout the world. He is also a qualified Russian interpreter.

Bruneian Royal family

In conjunction to his silver jubilee, HM Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah founded the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation to improve five sectors; religion, welfare, education, development and finance. This included the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation Complex, which is both a foundation to generate revenue for the welfare of the Bruneian people and an upmarket shopping centre. He also established the religious Institute Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, which gives students scholarship to study abroad. 

The Coworth Park hotel was built in 1776 – then known as Coworth House. In 2008, renovation works started on the main Georgian manor house to create a luxury country house hotel estate and spa. Since HRH Prince Haji ‘Abdul ‘Azim launched the hotel – a BIA-owned property in Berkshire – it’s won an awared for its unique interior design and features in Conde Nast Traveller UK’s “Gold List 2011”.

Greek Royal family

In 1989, HM King Constantine II and HM Queen Anne-Marie founded the Hellenic College of London, a bilingual school in Knightsbridge. It closed in 2005.

Of all the Grecian royals, HRH Crown Prince Pavlos leaves a trail of startups in his wake. In 1997, he co-founded Griphon Asset Management, an alternative investment group. In 1998, he co-founded Ivory Capital Group LLC and Ivory Fund Investors, which are private investment groups focused on value-orientated equities. In 2002, he co-founded Ortelius Capital Partners LLC, an alternative asset management group that specialises in hedge funds, and in 2003, he co-founded Brigantine, a value based equity fund.

HRH Crown Princess Marie-Chantal, deemed a modern “mumpreneur”, designs her own range of luxury children’s clothing and accessories, which she founded in 2000.

Jordanian Royal family

In April 2008, the HM Queen Rania launched “Madrasati”, a public-private initiative aimed at refurbishing 500 of Jordan’s public schools over a five-year period. The Jordan River Foundation, which led to the launch of the Children Program, developed to place children’s welfare above political agendas and cultural taboos. and the Child Safety Program, which addresses the immediate needs of children at risk from abuse. 

She initiated the Al-Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans in 2003 and in 2009 co-founder of the “1GOAL: Education for All” campaign.

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Monaco’s Royal family

In 2006, HSH Prince Albert II created the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which supports sustainable and ethical projects around the world focussing on: climate change and developing renewable energies; combating the loss of biodiversity; and water management and fighting desertification.

In 1986, HSH princess Stéphanie co-founded a swimwear line called Pole Position. She also co-owned Replay cafe‘s and a store. 

Charlotte Marie Pomeline Casiraghi, daughter of HRH Princess Caroline is a published writer and magazine editor for the ecological and fashion-related magazine Ever Manifesto, which she co-founded. The magazines first free publication was released in 2009. 

Moroccan Royal family

In 1999, HRH Princess Lalla Hasna launched the national campaign for the protection of the environment. She also founded the Mohammed VI Foundation to protect the environment.

HRH Prince Moulay Hicham is the founder and president of the Moulay Hicham Foundation, a non-profit private foundation for social science research. He is also the co-founder of the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University.

Dutch Royal family

HRH Prince Friso is a co-founder of the MRI Centre in Amsterdam and is also a founding shareholder of Wizzair, the largest low-cost airline in Eastern Europe.

In 2009, HRH princess Irene established the NatuurCollege in the Netherlands. She
also the founded of NatureWise, an organisation that brings elementary school children in touch with nature.

The European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans – a non-governmental organisation that strived for peace, democracy and stability in the Balkans, was co-founded by HRH Princess Mabel in 1994. Among it’s members were Margaret Thatcher, Simon Wiesenthal and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. In 1995, she co-founded War Child Holland and is also one of the founding members of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The Source is a company which HH Prince Maurits started in 2006. It focuses on innovative concepts for products, services and systems for business and the government.

Norwegian Royal family

In 2006, HRH Crown Prince Haakon co-founded Global Dignity, an independent, non-political organisation that promotes the universal right of every human being to lead a dignified life. 

HH Princess Märtha Louise co-founded Astarte Education, an alternative therapy center. 

Qatari Royal family

Upon graduation, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa established the Reach Out To Asia organisation in order to provide quality education, which was inspired by the recent natural disasters in Asia.

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Saudi Royal family

Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah is the owner of Tower Lane Properties, a land development firm and founded the Centennial Fund in 2004. The Fund is a non-profit organisation with the goal of supporting the Saudi business. Together with Delano Roosevelt, the Prince established the Friends of Saudi Arabia, an organisation seeking to foster the friendly relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In 2006, Princess Deena Abdulaziz opened her own museum-like boutique, DNA.

Prince Khalid bin Abdullah owns Saudi Arabian Insurance Company with his sons. He also owns Technical Support and Operational Services that is a limited liability company, founded in 1998.

Al Waleed Bin Talal is the founder, CEO, and 95 per cent-owner of the Kingdom Holding Company. He owns the Savoy Hotel in London and, with Bill Gates, the Four Seasons Resort and Hotel management company – including the George V hotel in Paris.

Swaziland’s Royal family

In 2005, Prince Cedza Dlamini founded the Ubuntu Institute for Young Social Entrepreneurs, a youth-led non-profit organisation focused on leadership enrichment, practical skills training and fundraising. 

Swedish Royal family

HRH Prince Daniel launched the Prince Daniel’s Fellowship and Entrepreneurship Programme in cooperation with IVA

The World Childhood Foundation, which focusses on local and global projects for children was co-founded by HM Queen Silvia in 1999.

The Crown Princess Victoria Fund was set up by HRH Crow Princess Victoria in 1997 and is run as a part of Radiohjälpen, the aim of which is to provide support for leisure and recreational activities for children and young people with functional disabilities or chronic illnesses.

Thailand’s Royal family

in 1995, HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha founded the Princess Pa Foundation when there was a big flood in Bangkok. The foundation aims to help poor people in rural areas, and people affected by natural disasters.

HRH Princess Srirasm, the Royal Consort launched the “Sai Yai Rak Jak Mae Su Luk”  campaign, which promoted breast feeding. 

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