Archaic Law Has Prince Charles £1 Million Richer In The Past Year
Prince Charles has, in the last year, profited from more than £1 million under an archaic rule, whereby Cornwall residents who have died without a will have their estate ultimately go to the Crown.
Under rules dating back to King William IV, people who die without wills or family in Cornwall, or dissolved but unclaimed companies, have the estate go to the Duke of Cornwall, currently the Prince of Wales.
Between April and the end of December 2019, the Prince received £868,000 under the archaic rule. A further £201,000 was collected between January and the end of the financial year in March.
The Telegraph explained in a recent article that the Prince:
“…retains some of this money in order to pass it back to any previously unidentified relatives who may later come forward to claim their inheritance, however, all of the money generated from unclaimed estates is ultimately passed onto a benevolent endowment fund, which invests and grows the money, which is then used to pay out to charitable causes and institutions in Cornwall and the Southwest.”
In 2013 the Prince came under fire as it was revealed he used the intestate money received from Cornwall to fund his own charities, including support bursaries at his previous private school in Scotland, Gordonstoun.
Following the revelation in the 2012 accounts, the donations drew criticism as there were calls for the inheritance to be channelled into the public purse, which is normal practise through other areas in England.
Burt Biscoe, a councillor in Truro, said Charles was “abusing the loyalty” of Cornish people and the “privilege” of receiving the intestate assets;
“If he is using this money to fund his own charities and his old school in Scotland then a further covert injustice is being prosecuted against Cornwall,” he said. “Think what he could achieve if he gave that £450,000 to Cornwall every year … The area of giving should coincide with the area of taking.”
Cornwall has been particularly hard hit by the recent pandemic lockdown, and it is estimated that the income Prince Charles receives from the Duchy will drop from £22.2 million by a ‘significant amount’.
Alastair Martin, the secretary and keeper of the records said;
“The lockdown resulting from COVID-19 was only in place for one week of the financial year that this report covers, there is therefore very limited financial impact on these results.
“As to 2020-21, it is too early in the new financial year to be able to say with any confidence what the impact on our financial performance will be, but, despite having a particularly well-diversified asset base, we fully expect the revenue surplus to be down by a significant amount, in large part due to our trading enterprises being closed”.
Despite any future drop in income, any money coming from unclaimed estates goes to the Duchy, it will be passed onto a benevolent fund which is then used to pay out to charitable causes in Cornwall and the South West. The fund has paid out more than £850,000 to charities over the past seven years.