The world’s wealthiest monarchs have been making a lot of news lately. Queen Elizabeth II made headlines Tuesday when she visited New York City for the first time since 1976. Properly dressed in pearls and a hat, despite the record heat, the Queen stayed long enough--apparently just five hours--to address the UN General Assembly and to visit Ground Zero.
Just a few months earlier the Sultan of Brunei made his own splash in the big apple when he reportedly picked up 48 handbags and 24 “duck” umbrellas from the Lederer e Paris store in Manhattan.
Perhaps the biggest news, or shocker, came the third week in June when Prince Albert of Monaco announced his engagement to former South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock. The longtime bachelor, who took the throne after his father's death in 2005, may have caught wedding fever after attending Sweden's royal wedding earlier in the month, when Crown Princess Victoria married in a lavish ceremony in Stockholm.
The princely nuptials deflect unwanted attention from a lawsuit brought by US citizen Robert Eringer against Prince Albert for breach of contract. Eringer alleges the Prince hired him in 2002 to be his intelligence advisor to root out "corruption, money laundering and organized crime in Monaco." Asked for comment, the palace said it could not respond at this time. Meanwhile, Albert just hired a new lawyer, Gregory Craig, Obama's White House counsel for his first year in office, who previously represented would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley Jr. and directed the team defending US president Bill Clinton against impeachment.
The wedding may also help to refill Monaco's coffers. The tiny principality saw a 4% decline in tourism in 2009. In a recent survey released by London-based Barclays Wealth, more than half of Monaco's citizens with over $1 million to invest expect the economy to deteriorate. So far the prince has managed to hold his own fortune steady at $1 billion (No. 9 on our list) based on Monaco's desirable real estate; he reportedly owns one-fourth of the principality.