The brother of Vietnam's richest person, media boss Pham Nhat Vu, branched out into the Australian beef industry in 2016 by purchasing the Northern Territory's Vermelha Station for a cool AU$18 million ($13m/£9.8m). The purchase gave Pham control of 203,900 hectares, but in 2019 he was arrested for bribery in Vietnam and reportedly fled to Cyprus. It's unclear whether he still controls the land.
America's largest homebuilder business, D. R. Horton, was founded by Donald Horton (pictured) almost 40 years ago. The firm's founder has been buying up swathes of land in the southwest of the US and now owns a total of 205,746 hectares.
The family-owned Westervelt Company has been in business for 138 years making paper and lumber products. The firm, which was established in 1884 by Herbert Westervelt, has a total of 209,627 hectares of forest in five US states.
The Martin family is carrying on the work started by the late Roy O. Martin Jr., who massively expanded the timber firm set up by his father in 1923. The ever-expanding lumber enterprise is headed by Roy O. Martin Jr.'s son, Roy O. Martin III (pictured), and currently controls 222,577 hectares in America's Deep South.
As major landowners, the Stimson family goes way back. The Stimson Lumber Company was established before the Civil War and the clan now controls an extensive portfolio of forested land, including seven mills in Oregon and Idaho.
One of the world's youngest billionaires, Hugh Grosvenor inherited the vast Grosvenor Estate in 2016 upon the death of his father Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster. Through the estate, the 31-year-old billionaire owns 57,000 hectares in the UK, including swathes of central London, such as 121 hectares in Belgravia alone. However, the Grosvenor Estate's land and property portfolio extends beyond the UK, with an estimated further 168,000 hectares of land in the USA, Canada, Australia, and France.
Given its sheer size it's hardly surprising Australia features so heavily in this round-up. Next is the Australian Food & Agriculture company, which has a bumper portfolio of farmland holdings in the state of New South Wales for raising sheep and cattle. The business is owned entirely by the local Bell family, and has been growing steadily since the 1970s. It currently sprawls across 225,405 hectares of land.
Alex Burt was born into money thanks to her late mining magnate father Michael Wright, and she and husband Julian bought Bullo River Station as their first cattle investment. The station stretches across 202,342 hectares near the border of Western Australia. In 2018 the pair bought another 24,000 hectares in the form of Wallcliffe House on the Margaret River. Alex also owns her father's 110-hectacre vineyard Voyager Estate.
Thomas Peterffy became one of America's top landowners when he acquired 227,000 hectares of timberland in Northern Florida. The Hungarian-born billionaire has since increased his portfolio to 235,122 hectares, having made his fortune by founding the electronic brokerage firm Interactive Brokers in 1978. It hasn't all been smooth sailing though, as the company was fined $38 million (£29m) for money laundering in 2020.
O'Connor clan patriarch Thomas O'Connor, nicknamed 'The Texas Cattle King', lucked out big time when the Mexican government granted him 1,792 hectares of Texas land back in 1834. Over the years the Irish immigrant's descendants have increased the family's holdings to an impressive 237,874 hectares.
Michael Crisp and James Lethbridge manage Lorraine Pastoral Company, which is a cattle ranch supported by irrigated farming and a feedlot. This 240,000-hectare property sits around 155 miles (250km) north of Cloncurry, Queensland in Australia, and the company has been in operation since 1915.
Andrei Korovaiko is the man behind Pokrovsky Concern, which is made up of more than 35 enterprises that deal in sugar, electrical equipment, property, investment and meat processing. The Concern sprawls across more than 240,000 hectares of the Southern Federal District of Russia, according to the company website.
The Ford family patriarch, Kenneth Ford, came from humble beginnings and started out by establishing a small sawmill in Roseburg, Oregon, back in 1936. Fast-forward to 2022 and Ford's descendants own just under 243,000 hectares of forest in Oregon, California, North Carolina and Virginia.
In the late 1870s Dr Howell Lykes shut down his medical surgery and moved to Florida to take over his family's modest 202-hectare ranch. Today, his heirs control 248,882 hectares in the Sunshine State and Texas.
Former bricklayers Dan and Farris Wilks made a fortune from tapping into the fracking industry in the early 2000s and invested a sizeable chunk of their money in land. These billionaire brothers have been buying up ranches in the western United States and own a total of 273,163 hectares in Montana, Idaho, Texas, Oregon and Tennessee.
Viktor Dimitriev heads up Vasilina, making him the 10th biggest landowner in Russia, according to Large Scale Agriculture. Vasilina's business is crop and flour production, and its land spans 380,000 hectares across the Samara region of the country.
Greg and Sharon Vickers own the Napier Pastoral Company, which made its first acquisitions in the Northern Territory in Australia in 2016 by buying the 38,200-hectare Delmore Downs and 83,300-hectare Delny farm. In 2019 the pair added the 268,000 hectares of Pine Hill Station to their holdings. These stations are in addition to their land in the south, meaning the couple likely owns far more than 389,500 hectares.
Like many religious groups, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a major landowner. The Mormon church reportedly owns more than 405,000 hectares in the continental US and became Florida's largest private landowner in 2014, according to Reuters.
One of the richest people in Russia, businessman Kirill Minovalov controls Avangard-Agro, one of the world's largest malt producers. The company owns four malting plants in Russia and Germany, which add up to more than 450,000 hectares of land.
Former Russian oil magnate Sergei Kukura and his son Alexei acquired assets of the Swedish holding Black Earth Farming in 2017 through their Volgo Don Agroinvest company. The deal more than doubled their landholdings, which are now around 451,000 hectares according to Large Scale Agriculture. The swathes of land are mainly in the Kursk and Tambov regions.
The billionaire son of a Kentucky farmer, Brad Kelley made his money from tobacco and sold his Commonwealth Brands company in 2001 for $1 billion (£763m). The reclusive tycoon owns 461,335 hectares of ranching land in Kentucky, Texas, Florida and New Mexico, according to the Land Report. He also has a cool net worth of $2.7 billion (£2bn), according to Forbes.
Together Vladimir Evtushenkov and the Louis-Dreyfus family own Steppe Agroholding and RZ Agro, which have a combined hectarage of 474,800 hectares, according to Large Scale Agriculture. Steppe alone is one of the largest agricultural holdings in south Russia, producing more than 55,000 tonnes of milk, 20,000 tonnes of apples and 700,000 tonnes of wheat every year.
Subway co-founder Peter Buck, who died shortly before last year's Land Report went to press, made most of his $1.7 billion (£1.3bn) fortune via his popular fast food chain and invested lots of it in land. The billionaire's Tall Timber Trust controls 374,000 hectares of forestland in Maine alone, which makes up a big chunk of his 500,191-hectare holdings. Buck is survived by two sons Christopher and William, who may have inherited the land from their father.
In control of 514,000 hectares of farmland, Ukrainian farming giant Kernel is the country's largest farm and one of the world's leading producers of sunflower oil. The firm's major shareholder is its founder, grain entrepreneur Andrii Verevskyi (pictured).
The Argentinian agricultural company Cross Pacific Investments bought three cattle stations in 2019: Manbulloo Station, Scott Creek and Sturt Downs, all in Australia's Northern Territory. The acquisitions came at a total cost of A$43 million ($32m/£24m) and span more than 540,000 hectares. The company is backed by the Buratovich family, who have been farming in Argentina for more than a century and are also involved in projects across Brazil, Uruguay and the United States.
Ukrainian businessman Oleg Bakhmatyuk owns 100% of UkrLandFarming, one of the eastern European country's largest agricultural businesses. The firm has approximately 570,000 hectares of highly productive land, according to Large Scale Agriculture.
Renowned Australian barrister Allan Myers doesn’t just enforce the law of the land; he also owns a lot of it, too. Cattle farming is the main preoccupation at the eminent lawyer’s Dunkeld Pastoral Company, which has holdings totalling more than 621,000 hectares in Western Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory. Myers also holds shares in the Tipperary Group of Stations, which spans 386,000 hectares, although it's unclear exactly how much of the land the barrister holds. In June 2020 Myers bought 1,273 hectares of Devon Park, in Dunkeld, western Australia, for AU$14.2 million ($11m/£8m).
Stan Kroenke, owner of the Premier League soccer club Arsenal and the NFL club Los Angeles Rams, among other major sports franchises, also owns 658,625 hectares of land making him America's fifth-biggest landowner. The billionaire's property portfolio includes the Q Creek Ranch in Wyoming and the legendary W T Waggoner Ranch in Texas.
Controversially, the former Russian agriculture minister Aleksandr Tkachev and his relatives control Russia's second-largest producer of raw milk, Agrokomplex. The holding currently manages 660,000 hectares of land, according to a report in Forbes.
Businessman and philanthropist Vadim Moshkovich has a 71% controlling stake in Rusagro. The company specialises in pork and sugar, and owns a total of 675,000 hectares in Russia, according to Large Scale Agriculture. Moshkovich also owns an estimated 2,580 hectares of prime real estate in Moscow via his Masshtab property development firm. Property has been a successful venture for Moshkovich and he currently has a net worth of $1.2 billion (£915m), according to Forbes.
Kazakhstan's Agrocenter Astana company controls an estimated 700,000 hectares in the central Asian country. The humongous grain business has farms across the Kazakh steppe.
Tornator is a Finnish forestry firm that owns more than 700,000 hectares of wooded land in Finland, Estonia and Romania. The company is controlled by a number of major Finnish institutional investors and also has a large real estate holding, suggesting that its hectarage is quite a bit larger than just its forestry operations.
The Oxenford family owns and operates the Western Grazing Company, which has land holdings in Australia's Queensland and Northern Territory. The company sold its largest station, the 1.25-million-hectare Wave Hill, to the MacLachlan family early last year, leaving it with 774,000 hectares in its portfolio.
North Star Pastoral, which has around 774,500 hectares of land in Australia including the immense Limbunya Station in the Northern Territory, is owned by Colin Ross. The cattleman hit the headlines in 2017 for his opposition to fracking in Australia. A few years later, he announced that his holdings would be shrinking considerably as he plans to sell Limbunya and Maryfield stations, which comprise around 650,000 hectares between them. The stations are expected to fetch more than AU$150 million ($116m/£83m) but don't appear to have found a buyer yet.
Billionaire CNN founder Ted Turner is America's fourth-biggest private landowner, according to the 2021 Land Report 100. The media mogul controls just under 809,400 hectares of land across the US and runs the world's largest private herd of bison, which consists of an incredible 45,000 animals.
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Inuit communities hold title over vast tracts of land across Canada, and the people of Nunavik, one of the four Canadian Inuit homelands, are the official owners of 815,200 hectares. Self-government within the area was made official by the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Land Claims Agreement in 1975, entitling the Nunavik Inuit to own their land.
Olzha, formerly known as Ivolga-Holding, is another Kazakhstani agriculture company taking up huge amounts of land. It is estimated to operate across 840,000 hectares, according to Large Scale Agriculture. However, this is a decrease from its previous holdings of 1.5 million hectares in both Kazakhstan and Russia, many of which the firm lost in a 2016 bankruptcy.
Dating back to 1890, the Reed family's Green Diamond Resource Company owns nearly 850,000 hectares of land in eight states across the US's Pacific Northwest and south, according to the 2021 Land Report. The Reeds are all about sustainable forestry and conservation, pledging to harvest just 2% of their timberland every year.
The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America and College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA CREF) has been named as the biggest global investor in agriculture by AgJournal, owning 850,000 hectares worldwide. A large portion of that land is in Australia, where TIAA CREF owns 286,000 hectares.
The second-largest private landowner in the US, according to the 2021 Land Report 100, Liberty Media's John Malone owns 890,308 hectares of land in America. The tycoon, who has a net worth of $7.5 billion (£5.7bn), controls mammoth tracts of forested land in Maine, as well as ranches in Wyoming, New Mexico and Colorado.
Russian tycoon Igor Khudokormov is the country's second-largest landowner The multi-millionaire controls sugar producer Prodimex and crop producer Agrokultura, which occupy a combined 892,200 hectares.
The family-owned Italian retailer is Argentina's largest private landowner with 900,000 hectares of land in Patagonia. However, these lands have also been claimed by the indigenous Mapuche people, according to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. The Benettons claimed to be unaware of this when they purchased the land in the 1990s.
South America's largest landowner, Chile's Forestal Arauco (CELCO) owns plantations in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The heirs of the late Anacleto Angelini are the majority shareholders in the firm, which sold off 80,500 hectares of land to foreign investors in May last year. The purchase leaves the company with around 919,500 hectares of land.
Scott Harris has hit the Australian headlines time and time again for his controversial plans to clear thousands of hectares of bushland to expand his agricultural portfolio. Harris had permission to clear 58,000 of his enormous 931,000-hectare Strathmore Station in 2015 but came under fire for threatening animal habitats and damaging wetland in what was one of the country’s biggest single land clearings. Harris also owns Kingvale Station, where he's sought permission to clear 1,800 hectares of land. This plan was rejected due to the plot's proximity to the Great Barrier Reef.
The Emmerson family, which runs one of America's largest lumber producers, Sierra Pacific Industries, is the largest private landowner in the United States. In total, the family owns 942,917 hectares of forested land in California, Washington and Oregon.
Filipino banker and property mogul Romeo Roxas has built a formidable real estate portfolio in Australia, which includes the 560,000-hectare Murray Downs Station and the 265,000-hectare Epenarra Station. Roxas already had significant agricultural interests in Australia including more than 60,000 hectares in New South Wales, as well as the 80,000 hectares across the districts of Aurora and Quezon in the Philippines, bringing the property mogul’s portfolio to more than 965,000 hectares.
Chairman of Australia's TV network Seven, Kerry Stokes is passionate about agriculture as well as media. He currently owns around a million hectares of farmland in Western and South Australia, after selling one of his properties on Kangaroo Island in 2019.
Africa's largest landowner is none other than King Mswati III of Eswatini, the country formerly known as Swaziland. The absolute ruler is the official owner of 60% of the country’s land, which adds up to around one million hectares. Around 70% of the people who live in Eswatini live on land owned by the king, and through appointed officials he has the ability to evict any citizen without having to support or compensate them in any way.
Back to Kazakhstan and its vast steppe, Alibi Agro is the country's largest landowner. The agriculture business is co-owned by Nurlan Tleubayev and Zhangeldy Mukhakhanov and stretches across a million hectares for the production of grain and flour.
This moneyed Australian family owns and operates more than a million hectares of land Down Under, according to The Weekly Times. Patriarch Tom Brinkworth died in August 2020 at the age of 83, leaving his wife Patricia and remaining family in control of around 100 holdings, from small farms to epic stretches of pasture that stretch as far as the eye can see. This equates to more than one million hectares of land in Australia, of which 250,000 are in the southeast.
Investors in Australian sustainable timber company New Forests, which include Japan's Mitsui & Co., ultimately own the firm's property holdings. These comprise more than 1 million hectares of forest in Australia, New Zealand, parts of Asia and the USA.
Viktor Linnik (pictured right, with former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev) and his brother Aleksandr Linnik own the leading Russian meat producer and exporter Miratorg. In 2021 the company controlled just 1.047 million hectares across the country, according to Large Scale Agriculture.
Chilean forestry company CMPC has more than 1.1 million hectares in Chile, Argentina and Brazil through its subsidiary, Forestal Mininco. The firm is owned by the late founder Eliodoro Matte's three billionaire children, including son Jorge (pictured).
Backed by one of South Africa’s richest people, Giovanni Ravazzotti, Rallen Australia is becoming a prominent player in the world of Australian landownership. In February 2020 the company acquired two major cattle stations, Tanumbirini and Forrest Hill, at a cost of A$70 million ($51.5m/£39). The stations stretch across more than 550,000 hectares making up a significant portion of Rallen's portfolio, which also includes Larrizona, Kalala, Mount McMinn and Big River stations. Rallen currently owns around 1.1 million hectares of land, with an eye to acquire more in the next decade, as reported by Financial Review.
Stanbroke runs seven huge cattle stations in Queensland making the firm one of the largest in the Australian farming sector. The company is controlled by the children of the late founder, grain king Peter Menegazzo, who was killed in a plane crash alongside his wife Angela in 2005. Menegazzo's sudden death caused divides in the family, with his children embroiled in courtroom dramas around their inheritance over a decade later.
One of Australia’s richest people with a fortune of $20.4 billion (£13.8bn), according to Forbes, mining legend Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest has significant livestock farming interests. After purchasing another two stations at a cost of A$30 million ($23.2m/£17m) in 2020, Forrest's total holdings amount to 1.3 million hectares.
The son of the late Australian wool baron Sir William Gunn, Bill Gunn is the founder and majority shareholder in the Gunn Agri Partners trust, which runs several large-scale cattle stations across Australia totalling around 1.3 million hectares.
Thanks to the 513,057 hectares it owns in the US the Canadian Irving family is the sixth-largest landowner in America. However, the lumber divison of Irving also owns around 800,000 hectares of private timberlands across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, for a total of at least 1.3 million hectares.
The sprawling cattle business founded by the late Australian cattle baron Graeme Acton (pictured) is now owned by his family. The Acton Land and Cattle Company owned 1.58 million hectares when the Queenslander passed away in 2014, and the family has since formed Australian Cattle and Beef Holdings in a joint venture with the Lee family, who feature later in this round-up. Acton was well-known for his involvement in the Australian sport of campdrafting, where a horse and rider work cattle. But sadly it was this sport that led to his death after he fell from a horse during a competition and sustained severe injuries.
In April 2020 the McMillan Pastoral Company agreed to buy Wollogorang Station and Wentworth Station from Chinese billionaire Ma Xingfa, who had acquired the holdings in 2015. The deal cost A$53 million ($41m/£30m) and boosted the McMillan family’s portfolio by almost 706,000 hectares. In their second acquisition that year the McMillans then purchased Roxborough Downs and Mudgerebar Station, adding another 420,000 hectares. The family already owned Calvert Hills Station in the Cloncurry region of Queensland, which they acquired for A$15 million ($11.6m/£8.5m) in 2013, bringing their total land to around 1.6 million hectares.
The Morgan and Wells families together own 2.1 million hectares of land along the border of South Australia and New South Wales. Their Mutooroo Pastoral Company was established in 1868 and manages five cattle stations including Quinyambie, which alone comprises 2.1 million hectares.
Australian retail entrepreneur Brett Blundy has amassed an epic portfolio of land over the past few years, including the supersized Walhallow Cattle Station in the Northern Territory, which he acquired in 2015 for $77 million (£58m). His BBRC Beef company owns about 2.4 million hectares in total.
The Hewitt family have been pastoralists in Queensland for generations and the clan still controls numerous land holdings across the Australian state, as well as in the Northern Territory and New South Wales. The family’s extensive portfolio includes 16 holdings including the recently-purchased Narwietooma aggregation of 1,108,200 hectares. This new acquisition nearly doubled the family's land ownership to 2.05 million hectares.
Swedish bank Handelsbanken is the majority owner of the Swedish Cellulose Company (SCA), Europe's largest landowner. The company says it has around 2.6 million hectares of forest in northern Sweden, equivalent to the size of North Macedonia.
Along with his family, organic agriculture enthusiast David Brook owns and operates farms in southern Queensland and South Australia. His holdings total 3 million hectares, according to his profile on OBE Organic Group, across which cattle can freely roam in line with the company's free-range ethos. OBE Organic, as a conglomerate of farms owned by families across Australia, comprises more than 8 million hectares.
The Hughes clan have run the family cattle business in Queensland since 1872. The Hughes Pastoral Company is one of the biggest and most profitable beef-producing enterprises on the planet, specialising in the premium Wagyu cut. In June last year the company paid a record-breaking AUS$180 million ($131m/£100m) for the 438,000-hectare Miranda Downs cattle station, the largest amount of money ever paid for a single pastoral holding in Australia. The purchase brought the Hughes' total holdings to 3,138,000 hectares.
Old McDonald had a farm – and then some. The venerable Australian McDonalds have been farming Down Under since the early 19th century and by 2013, the family was running a total of 175,000 head of cattle over 3.36 million hectares in the heart of Queensland. That same year, tragedy struck the family when cattle baron Alexander McDonald died after falling from a windmill.
Australia's largest privately-owned beef producer, the Consolidated Pastoral Company has approximately 300,000 head of cattle at any one time and a massive 3.6 million hectares throughout the country, plus two feedlots in Indonesia. The company is majority-owned by UK investor Guy Hands' Terra Firma Capital Partners.
The Williams family's eponymous cattle company acquired the gigantic Anna Creek Station in South Australia in 2016, which at 1.57 million hectares is the largest working cattle station in the world. The family also owns another seven cattle stations in the same state, totalling 4.5 million hectares.
The nephew of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Paddy Handbury heads the eponymous family group, which owns and operates Arcoona Cattle Station and Wagyu cattle property Swinging Shovel in South Australia, as well as Western Australia's The Rises. The combined hectarage of the properties comes to more than 5.28 million.
Dating way back to 1824, the Australian Agricultural Company is the nation's oldest firm. Today, British tycoon Joe Lewis (pictured) is the major shareholder. The company owns and operates a huge 6.4 million hectares in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
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Unsurprisingly, Australia's wealthiest person is the country's number one private landowner too. In 2016 mining magnate Gina Rinehart (pictured), who has a net worth of $31.3 billion (£23.8bn), teamed up with China's Shanghai CRED Pastoral to buy the lion's share of S. Kidman & Co. As the largest individual private landholding on the planet, this added to her already bulging real estate portfolio.
Controversially, Rinehart has been looking to open a new 2,800-hectare coal mine in Canada’s Rocky Mountains and has launched legal proceedings to overturn its rejection. Although she's keen to expand her mining empire, however, she's selling off swathes of land elsewhere. According to ABC Rural, the magnate had listed around 3,787,519 hectares for sale by the end of January this year. The sales will bring her total holdings to around 6.7 million hectares.
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Another Australian farming business, the Jumbuck Pastoral Company was established in Adelaide by patriarch HP MacLachlan back in 1888. The firm, which is wholly owned by the founder's descendants, owned 5.7 million hectares of land in 2016, according to The Weekly Times. It's since expanded its holdings with the purchase of the 1.25-million-hectare Wave Hill Station in early 2021.
In late 2018, Australian farmers Viv Oldfield and Donny Costello teamed up to buy the 1.65 million-hectare cattle station Clifton Hills in South Australia, the country's second-largest farm and one of the biggest in the world. Earlier this year, their joint venture – the Crown Point Pastoral Company – boosted its holdings by 3.26 million hectares after it bought three stations from Gina Rinehart, bringing its total landmass to 7.71 million hectares.
The world's largest farm is the 9.1 million-hectare Mudanjiang City Mega Farm in China, which is jointly owned by China's Zhongding Dairy Farming and Russia's Severny Bur. The dairy farm, which is roughly the size of Portugal, supplies the Russian market and is home to 100,000 cows with the capacity to pump out 800 million litres of milk a year.
Thanks to the Western Arctic (Inuvialuit) Claims Settlement Act, signed in 1984, the Inuvialuit living in Canada’s western Arctic hold title to 910,000 square kilometres of land, equivalent to 9.1 million hectares. The region’s logo is a gyrfalcon, the largest falcon in the world. It was chosen just as the bird was about to be taken off the endangered species list, serving as a symbol for the Inuvialuit’s resilience – particularly when it comes to the issue of land ownership.
The Inuit in Nunavut, northern Canada, have title to over an enormous 35.3 million hectares in the region. The land was handed over by the Canadian Government in the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement in 1993 and went on to form the territory of Nunavut, which was created in 1999.
The Catholic Church is estimated to hold an incredible 71.6 million hectares of land in its bulging real estate portfolio, an area larger than France, according to The New Statesman. This makes the Holy See is the second-largest non-government landowner in the world, with vast swathes of land in countries from Germany to India.
By far the world's largest non-governmental landowner, Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the British Commonwealth and therefore legal owner of around 2.7 billion hectares of land, as estimated by The New Statesman. That's as much as a sixth of the planet’s land surface. The Crown Estate includes prime chunks of London, massive tracts of agricultural land in rural Britain, and more than half of the UK's foreshore. The Crown also owns over 90% of land in Canada, where Queen Elizabeth II is head of state. However, the land cannot be sold by the Queen and is not considered her private property.
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