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Prince Charles receives £1m from estates

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 05, 2012

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The Prince of Wales's Duchy of Cornwall estate has received more than £1 million over the last six years from people in the county who died without making a will or having an heir.

Historic constitutional powers meant the Duchy is entitled to all unclaimed property and estates left when someone dies in Cornwall.

Known as bona vacantia, the legal term for ownerless land, the powers date back to the creation of the Duchy of Cornwall estate in 1337 by King Edward III.

The Duchy estate was created to provide an income for the King's son and heir, Prince Edward, otherwise known as The Black Prince, who became the first Duke of Cornwall.

Last year, a total of £552,000 passed to the Duchy under the law. Since 2006, the amount adds up to £1,019,000.

The money, though is not retained by the Duchy, but donated to charities through the Duke of Cornwall's Benevolent Fund, minus an amount for "ex gratia payments and other associated costs" – which amounted to £86,000 last year.

A Duchy of Cornwall spokesman said: "The Prince of Wales decided almost 40 years ago that the bona vacantia funds should be given to charity."

In most cases, the estates of people who die without making a will, and who have no obvious heirs, go to the Government.

The anti-monarchy group Republic, which last month launched a campaign in Cornwall to abolish the Duchy, said the bona vacantia money should do likewise.

"The money made from unclaimed property in Cornwall should go where it does everywhere else in the country," spokesman Graham Smith said.

"It should go to the Treasury and into public funds to be spent on public services."

In addition to the bona vacantia arrangement, the Duke of Cornwall also has several little-known rights and powers, including the right to veto Westminster legislation.

Last year, Prince Charles' private funding from the Duchy of Cornwall rose by 3% to £18.3 million.

His income from grants-in-aid and Government rose from £1,962,000 to £2,194,000.

In addition to vast swathes of land in Cornwall, the Duchy owns land in 22 other counties, stretching as far north as Cheshire.

The estate, which has more than 3,500 lettings, which include 1,000 commercial agreements and 700 residential lettings, also owns the Oval cricket ground.

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  • KernowGB  |  October 06 2012, 12:09PM

    @Big_Ger (re Saturday, October 06 2012, 9:56AM) Since Cornwall is not 'in England', that would require quite a constitutional shake-up and the completion of the process of Cornish Genocide. See -- http://tinyurl.com/d9o8gx4 .

  • Big_Ger  |  October 06 2012, 9:56AM

    Get rid of the whole duchy concept and lets just be a normal county of England then.

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  • Olly_Gark  |  October 06 2012, 7:06AM

    If there is any 'spare money' whether from those who die intestate or any other source it should be used for the benefit of the people of Cornwall - one of the poorest areas in the UK - not passed to the parasitic 'Duke' who, judging by his *actions* (rather than his words, written for him by his PR advisers) is little more than profiteering property developer. The obscene environmental vandalism of concerting over agricultural land on the outskirts) of Truro to build a supermarket for his and his friends' private profits (just one example of his 'business interests') is more like something from a third world banana republic than a modern democratic country. The 'Duke' - or 'eco=prince' as he sometimes likes to style himself - doesn't give a damn about Cornwall, its environment or its people - just how much he can loot for himself and his friends. Parasite.

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  • KernowGB  |  October 05 2012, 9:36PM

    "The Duchy estate was created to provide an income for the King's son and heir, Prince Edward, otherwise known as The Black Prince, who became the first Duke of Cornwall." That is a statement that needs to be qualified and justified, in order to distinguish it from the constitutional Duchy of Cornwall, for which the grant was, in truth, originally created. In fact, what has been termed "the creation" was was more correctly a "restoration" as referred to in the Acts, Charters and Patents associated with it. If it were solely to provide an income, then there needs to be an explanation as to why the first item enumerated in the Great Charter, on the 17th March 1337 was 'The Shrievalty of Cornwall and in an Act that preceded the Charter, it was 'the County' that was granted - not the estates, which were later mentioned as also being annexed and united to the aforesaid Duchy forever, without being given elsewhere'. There is still a lot of information, currently hidden, and lied about, which reveals how special the constitution settlement of the Duchy of Cornwall truly is. To simply refer to "the Duchy Estate" is to do a serious injustice to the rights of the Cornish people. A critical part of that injustice is the failure of the Duke of Cornwall to protect the rights of his Cornish subjects.