A new campaign calling for the Duchy of Cornwall to be abolished and for the landed estate to brought fully under public ownership was launched today by Republic, the anti-monarchy pressure group. Republic described the historical arrangement which sees the Duchy's profits paid directly to Prince Charles as “arcane, archaic and unfair”, adding that the deal deprived the treasury of tens of millions every year.

Contrary to popular belief the Duchy of Cornwall is not the personal property of Prince Charles or the royal family.

The Duchy - created in the fourteenth century - now consists of more than fifty thousand hectares of land in 23 counties, mostly in the south-west of England. Its surplus revenue, which last year amounted to £17.8m, is paid to Prince Charles in his capacity as Duke of Cornwall.

Republic believes that the Duchy's revenue, like that of the Crown Estate, should be paid to the Treasury to fund public services.

Although Charles voluntarily pays some tax on this income, he offsets a range of “business expenses” including butlers, valets, chefs, personal dressers and chauffeurs, resulting in further losses to the Treasury.

As well as providing Charles with a multi-million pound income, the Duchy gives the heir to the throne a unique range of powers - including the right to veto legislation which may affect his private interests.

The campaign calls for stewardship of the estate's land and property to be transferred to the Crown Estate or a separate board of fully accountable commissioners, with its net profit passing directly to the Treasury for the benefit of all taxpayers.

Last year a tribunal judge ruled that the Duchy should be considered a public authority and not a private estate, after it refused to disclose environmental information.

Launching the campaign, Republic's chief executive Graham Smith said:

“It is simply absurd that taxpayers lose out on many millions of pounds each year to fund one very privileged man. The Duchy belongs to the nation, not Charles Windsor, and its profits should support our public services.”

“Charles, and any future heir to throne, doesn't need tens of millions each year to carry out his very undemanding duties. That money should be funding our schools, our hospitals and our armed forces. The current arrangement is arcane, archaic and unfair – it has to end."

"If the government believes there is a job for Prince Charles to do then they must fund him in the usual manner as they would with any other public official."

"It is a principle of democracy that all citizens are treated equally in law and by parliament. So it's wrong that one man should personally profit from a property portfolio that is the property of the nation as a whole. The benefits must be shared by the nation."

Details of the new campaign will be posted on this website over the coming weeks and events will be organised in Cornwall and elsewhere.