The Royal family brings in well over £500 million a year from overseas tourists, according to new VisitBritain research.

This figure is generated, directly and indirectly, by tourists who visit sites related to the Monarchy. Popular such attractions are the Tower of London, The Palace and Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

Of the 30 million overseas visitors who came to Britain last year, 5.8 million visited a castle, 5 million an historic house and 6.4 million a religious monument such as a cathedral.

A poll of 25,000 potential foreign visitors to Britain revealed that visiting ”Royal locations”, ”castles” and ”stately homes” were among the top three activities that would-be tourists said they would like to do. Respondents were also asked to pick a postcard picture that they would send home to communicate that they were in Britain, the most popular was a double decker bus (24%) coming in second was a stone castle by the sea (20%) and third was a picture of Queen Elizabeth II.

VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: ‘’This fascinating research shows Britain’s monarchic heritage draws foreign tourists to just about every corner of the country from Scotland to Cornwall. Her Majesty the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, a feat last accomplished back in 1897 by Queen Victoria. This report suggests that year she is going to generate a bonanza for British tourism.’’