Duchy of Cornwall – secret and unaccountable.
Inquiry urged into the Duchy powers and finances.
London – 14 November 2008
“Prince Charles enjoys privileged tax status. He does not pay corporation or inheritance tax. His income is taxed on a purely voluntary basis,” said human rights and republican campaigner Peter Tatchell, on the occasion of the Prince of Wales’s 60th birthday.
“Prince Charles treats the Duchy of Cornwall as his personal fiefdom. It is valued at nearly £650 million. Although the Prince does not own the Duchy’s capital assets, he does receive the income from them, which amounted to £16 million in 2007.
“It is time to end Charles’s tax exemptions and hold a parliamentary inquiry into the constitutional role, power and wealth of Prince Charles in his capacity as the Duke of Cornwall and head of the Duchy of Cornwall.
“The Duchy needs reforming, to end its privilege, nepotism and autocracy.
“Prince Charles should be paid from the civil list. Ownership of the 571 square kilometres (135,000 acres) of Duchy land – mostly in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and the Isles of Scilly – should be transferred to local independent trusts and be used for the economic and social regeneration of these deprived, underdeveloped regions of the UK.
“The Duchy of Cornwall portrays itself as a private estate which funds the public, charitable and private activities of the Prince of Wales and his family. But the Duchy and the Prince’s legal and financial entitlements are shrouded in secrecy and controversy.
“Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight is particularly weak. There is an injunction preventing MPs questioning or discussing the status and power of the Duchy. Parliamentary questions are blocked, as Andrew George MP discovered in 1997.
“We need far greater transparency and accountability concerning the authority and operations of the Duchy.
“In recent years, the Duchy of Cornwall has become a largely commercial enterprise with increasing profits that personally benefit the Duke of Cornwall, Prince Charles,” said Mr Tatchell.