Prince William's Duchy of Cornwall is no better than a 'medieval slush fund', ... trends now

Prince William's Duchy of Cornwall is no better than a 'medieval slush fund', ... trends now
Prince William's Duchy of Cornwall is no better than a 'medieval slush fund', ... trends now

Prince William's Duchy of Cornwall is no better than a 'medieval slush fund', ... trends now

The Prince of Wales  is to spend £3 million on affordable housing at Newquay on land controlled by his Duchy of Cornwall. 

This sounds impressive - but less so when you read the small print. 

Only 40 per cent of the proposed development will actually be classed as affordable. One hundred per cent of the rental income will go into William's coffers.

The unvarnished reality is that the Duchy, which William has inherited now that he has succeeded his father as Prince of Wales, is a hard-nosed business that seeks to maximise its profits. 

William, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall pictured on Duchy land on Dartmoor, Devon, last year. He was there to announce plans to regenerate and expand an area of woodland by 2040

William, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall pictured on Duchy land on Dartmoor, Devon, last year. He was there to announce plans to regenerate and expand an area of woodland by 2040

Despite its name, the Duchy of Cornwall holds most of its land in the neighbouring county, Devon

Despite its name, the Duchy of Cornwall holds most of its land in the neighbouring county, Devon

The Duchy even owns the Oval cricket ground in south London, where Surrey play. Former England cricket captain Alastair Cook is pictured walking off at the end of the fifth test against India in 2018 having recently announced his retirement

The Duchy even owns the Oval cricket ground in south London, where Surrey play. Former England cricket captain Alastair Cook is pictured walking off at the end of the fifth test against India in 2018 having recently announced his retirement

It provides William with a regular income estimated at £24m.

Of course any investment in affordable housing is welcome but let us not be fooled by the idea that this is unbridled generosity. It isn't.

When, last November, a cheeky 11-year-old asked Prince William what was in his bank account, the heir to the throne feigned a sort of jocular ignorance.

A wise move. 

‘Too much to count,’ might be one answer. One billion pounds is another.

That’s the answer according to the calculations of the Sunday Times, which compiles an annual Rich List.

It is all rather opaque – deliberately so, no doubt.

For example, we don’t know how much has been passed to William in the way of money, art works or property by his wealthy relatives, including his late mother and the late Queen Mother.

Uniquely, royal wills remain secret.

We do know about William’s main source of annual income: the £24 million or so he now receives from his semi-feudal ownership of the Duchy of Cornwall, a sprawling estate of landholdings, businesses and properties.

The title is misleading as the bulk of the land it controls is in neighbouring county Devon, along with 160 miles of coastline plus residential and commercial properties galore across the country.

The tentacles of the Duchy stretch as far as Kent and include the Oval cricket ground in London.

It has become a formidable money-making machine.

Previously owned and controlled by his father as Prince of Wales, the Duchy of Cornwall is particularly interesting, not least in the light it sheds on how the royals first got rich – then stayed rich.

An often neglected point about the British Royal Family is that by 1760, as George III came to the throne, they were effectively bankrupt. 

That’s why the King did a deal with Parliament to hand over Crown lands to the state  in return for an annual maintenance grant known as a civil list. The lands in question are today managed by the misleadingly named Crown Estate - misleading because they now belong to us, not the Royal Family.

Parliament, meanwhile, would pick up the bill for costs previously falling to the monarch, such as for the army and the civil service.

The royals certainly did hand over a great deal of land - but this included neither the Duchy of Cornwall nor the Duchy of Lancaster (the companion land and business holding, which is now controlled by William’s father, the King.)

Why was the transfer never made? Only because wild tracts of south west England and the Bowland Forest were essentially worthless back in 1760. 

The Monarchy was close to bankrupt when George III came to the throne in 1760. He gave his land to the state in return for an annual income - but held on to the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, then seen as worthless

The Monarchy was close to bankrupt when George III came to the throne in 1760. He gave his land to the state in return for an annual income - but held on to the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, then seen as worthless

The Duchy of Cornwall claims ownership over the Scilly Isles, where the Royal Family goes on holiday. Charles, Diana, William and Harry are pictured there in 1989

The Duchy of Cornwall claims ownership over the Scilly Isles, where the Royal Family goes on holiday. Charles, Diana, William and Harry are pictured there in 1989

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the Scilly Isle of Tresco on Pegasus in September 2016

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the Scilly Isle of Tresco on Pegasus in September 2016

The Scillies are famed for their sheltered weather and subtropical vegetation, such as that in the Abbey Gardens on Tresco

The Scillies are famed for their sheltered weather and subtropical vegetation, such as that in the Abbey Gardens on Tresco

The Duchy of Lancaster was passed by the late Queen Elizabeth to her son Charles. The Whitewell Estate is in the Forest of Bowland in north Lancashire

The Duchy of Lancaster was passed by the late Queen Elizabeth to her son Charles. The Whitewell Estate is in the Forest of Bowland in north Lancashire

It has proved a costly oversight for the tax payer - and increasingly so as the years pass and modern property values inflate Prince William's profits.

Not that modernity and the Duchy of Cornwall - which dates from 1337 when Edward III was on the throne go - hand-in-hand.

Some of its rules still have a feudal taste.

Take, for example, the dubious and little-known practice called Prince's Consent whereby the Prince of Wales receives notification in advance of intended legislation.

Well before MPs get a chance to examine certain proposed new laws, a Prince of Wales can  argue for exemptions should the laws affect his private interests.

We know a little about this because, during a House of Lords debate in October 2021, Lord Berkeley asked for details of the issues on which the Consent of the Prince of Wales had been requested. 

There was a long and somewhat surprising list, including provisions to give direction to waste carriers and those concerning the way that smoke control areas were to work. 

On other occasions, Consent has been sought from the prince for Bills such as the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) Scotland Act 2021 and the Parking (Code of Conduct) Act 2018. 

Why, we do not know. 

However, the fact that consent had been requested and then recorded means, in practice, that the exemptions are available to the Prince of Wales.

Another exemption can be found in

read more from dailymail.....

PREV Michael Blanch: WA Police Commissioner's son is banned from driving after being ... trends now
NEXT Doctors first 'dismissed' this young girl's cancer symptom before her parents ... trends now