My friends and I we've cracked the code
We count our dollars on the train to the party
And everyone who knows us knows
That we're fine with this, we didn't come from money

from Lorde – Royals Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

We already know from the song’s opening verse that Lorde and her friends aren’t an affluent bunch, but it isn’t like they’re impoverished. She can still socialize and have a good time, she just keeps to a budget instead of blowing money needlessly like the “royals” she sees in music videos. They’ve got a clear perspective (“cracked the code”) on their place in the world, making their lack of money but a joke to them.

“We didn’t come from money” refers to old money. An idea embodied in The Great Gatsby where Jay Gatsby struggles to compete with people who have had money for generations. Lorde stated in an interview with Rolling Stone that she is fascinated with old money:

I’ve always been fascinated with aristocracy. I’m really interested in the Ivy Leagues, the final clubs, all the really old-money families, the concept of old money.

Lorde’s interest manifests itself through her Queen Bee persona and the fact that the theme of opulence and Lorde’s problems with what opulence stands for pervades most of her songs.

To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “Royals” by Lorde Lyrics and leave a comment on the lyrics box