Campaigners have written to Prince Charles, calling on him to stop referring to the Duchy of Cornwall as a private estate.
Republic, which campaigns for the abolition of the monarchy, has pointed out to Charles that the Duchy of Cornwall is Crown property, and is only in his possession for as long as he is the heir to the throne.
The letter says:
"The Duchy is the property of the Crown. As such these statements on your websites are misleading, and give a distorted view of the financial support given to the Royal Household, and the total cost to the country for maintaining the monarchy."
It goes on to set out why it is wrong to claim the Duchy is private, pointing out that, among other things:
"...in the event of there being no Duke of Cornwall, “the Duchy reverts to the Monarch, and the annual Sovereign Grant is reduced annually by the amount of the Duchy’s income.”"
In other words, the current arrangements explicitly accept that the income of the Duchy is there as part of a state funding arrangement, not as a personal income derived from personal property.
Prince Charles has two websites, princeofwales.gov.uk, and the Duchy’s website, duchyofcornwall.org. Both make the erroneous claim that the Duchy is private property, implying that it is the personal possession of the prince.
The claim allows Charles to suggest that he supports himself, and does not rely on public funding.
Speaking for Republic today, Graham Smith said:
"Prince Charles has successfully spun the line that he receives no financial support from the public. The truth is that the Duchy is state property and without a Duke of Cornwall the Duchy's income could instead pay for teachers, nurses and police officers."
"There is no reasonable argument that supports the view the Duchy is private. It belongs to the Crown, which is a national institution under the control of parliament and government."
"Duchy land should be part of the Crown Estate, raising revenue for the government that it can spend on public services."
"Instead the taxpayer effectively pays Prince Charles an annual salary in excess of £20m. That's at least 127 times what we pay the prime minister and is estimated to be more than the combined salaries of all the world's democratic leaders."
"It's time for Charles to come clean, and make it perfectly clear that the Duchy of Cornwall is a benefit afforded to him in his role as heir, and is therefore part of the cost to the nation of maintaining the monarchy."
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