Give us your Duchy: demand for Charles' £728m Cornish estate

Should all 53,000-hectares be handed to local people? Charlie Cooper reports

Anti-royalists will descend on Cornwall today to rally support for a campaign to abolish the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince Charles' £728m land and property portfolio.

Campaigners want the 53,000-hectare estate, most of which lies in the south-west, to be handed over to local people to boost the rural economy.

The protest comes amid growing disquiet in the region that the Duchy may be putting its own financial interests before those of the community.

The Duchy of Cornwall, which provides an income for the Prince, his sons and the Duchess of Cambridge, owns land in 23 counties and made a profit of £18m last year.

In June, it pushed through a plan to build one hundred houses and a Waitrose store on quality farmland east of Truro. Local councillor, Bert Biscoe, said the development marked the beginning of "the battle for Cornwall's land." He said: "Charles does not accept his constitutional responsibilities to Cornwall, he just wants the money. He says 'stand up for rural life and the farmer', and then builds a supermarket and a hundred houses on good quality farmland."

The £40m Truro East District Centre received planning permission earlier this year. More than 250 letters of objection were written by local residents who feared that the development would become "another Poundbury" – a reference to the "experimental" town near Dorchester, built to Prince Charles' own architectural specifications.

The Duchy's origins lie deep in England's medieval past. Created in 1337 by Edward III to provide an income for his son, the Black Prince, it has propped up heirs to the throne ever since. The charter that created the Duchy remains a controversial document for Cornish nationalists, who interpret it as a piece of political manoeuvring to keep unruly Cornish landowners within the English fold.

Republic, whose ultimate goal is the abolition of the monarchy, are launching the campaign at a public meeting in Truro. "This land is the property of the Crown, which means it belongs to the nation," said Graham Smith, Republic's campaign manager. "The Duchy has to be got rid of as an institution. It could be gifted to the people of Cornwall." Mr Smith is expecting a warm reception in Truro, where a republican "summit" will be held in the local library this afternoon.

Mr Smith said the campaign was not about "the independence or status of Cornwall", but part of "a wider campaign to curtail Charles' interference and influence in politics."

In recent years the Duchy has angered residents of the Isles of Scilly by driving up the rents on the islands, Mr Smith said. The Duchy states on its website that it is working with housing associations on the islands to provide 18 new affordable homes.

A spokesman for the Duchy of Cornwall declined to comment on Republic's campaign for the estate's demise. When asked about the fairness of the Duchy's funding model, the spokesman said their accounts were "transparent and black and white".

According to the Duchy's website, the Duke "chooses to use a large proportion of the income from the Duchy to meet the cost of his public and charitable work. The Duchy also funds the public, charitable and private activities of the Duchess of Cornwall and Princes William and Harry."

"The Duchy has been run like this since 1337 and I don't think we'll be saying anymore than that," a spokesman said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Women protest at the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh
tvReview: It's a tough watch, but the details of the brutal gang rape and murder of medical student need to be shared if we want to strive for global gender equality
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jeffrey Archer holds up a copy of 'Kane and Abel', a book he says was ripped-off by Bollywood
books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot