Duchy of Cornwall Coat of Arms

Duchy of Cornwall

Old Jug Ears

The Duchy of Cornwall seemed to be an interesting subject for a Cornish site - little did I realise how difficult it would be. Try the Internet for information, and practically nothing, try printed books and little there either. I do not have an axe to grind, but the Crown and the Duke of Cornwall are very secretive about any information getting out. In an age of books being written on every subject under the sun, not one has been written about the history Dukes or Duchy of Cornwall. I would be grateful for any information that anyone can add to this fairly basic outline of the Duchy. It is evident that the income from the Duchy amounts to tens of millions of pounds every year, and is certainly a "nice little earner".

William the Conqueror allocated Cornwall to one of his relatives, and by 1337 Edward III created the Duchy as an estate for the eldest sons of the monarch. This has remained the case down the ages, through 24 Dukes of Cornwall, to Prince Charles today.

Edward the Black Prince rode into Launceston Castle in 1337 to be proclaimed the first Duke of Cornwall. This was the first Duchy to be created in England. Apart from owning large estates the Dukes of Cornwall claimed taxes from tin and other mineral rights. The taxes on tin continued until 1828, although after this date they still received income from mineral rights.

In 1760 the Crown gave up its estates to the nation in exchange for an income, but the Duchy of Cornwall estates were not included in this deal. The power of the Duchy politically can be seen in the fact that Cornwall returned 44 MP's to parliament until 1832 - the same number as the whole of Scotland. Today Cornwall is represented by only 5 MP's in a much larger House of Commons.

Nothing appears to have been written about the life or works of the 24 Dukes of Cornwall over the years, apart from the fact that they drew considerable wealth from the estates.

Prince Charles became Duke of Cornwall at the age of 4 when his mother ascended the throne. However it was not for another 20 years, in 1973 that he was actually proclaimed Duke of Cornwall in Launceston Castle. At the ceremony he received his feudal dues, which consisted of
a pair of white gloves
a pair of greyhounds
a pound of pepper and of cumin
a bow
a pair of gilt spurs
100 specially struck silver shillings
wood for his fires
a salmon spear
who says that the monarchy does not move with the times!

The Duchy of Cornwall refers to the land owned by the Duke of Cornwall, and not to the County of Cornwall. As far as I can ascertain the Duchy owns 51,885 hectares, mostly in the south of England (and not necessarily all in Cornwall, in fact over half the estate is on Dartmoor in Devon) , which is run on a commercial basis - tenanted out to some 200 farms, plus 2400 acres of woodland, a few castles and mineral rights over the whole county. Prince Charles chairs The Prince's Council, the equivalent of a  non executive board of directors, which includes: The Lord
Warden of the Stannaries, the Receiver General, the Attorney-General to The Prince of Wales and the Secretary
and Keeper of the Records. (gentlemen on whom little is known)

Total Duchy income for the 12 months amounted to to March 2005 was 15,900,000. This included £2.4 million in grants from the government.

The Duchy's net surplus for the year to 31 March 2005 was 5.2 million. As a crown body, the Duchy is tax exempt, but the Prince of Wales voluntarily pays income tax (currently 40%) on his income from the duchy. A more detailed Duchy of Cornwall income and expenditure statement is given here.

And we have detailed pages on

Duchy of Cornwall Income

Charities Supported by the Duchy

Government Grants to support the Prince of Wales

Prince Charles tax situation

Staff employed by the Duchy of Cornwall

Overseas Tours costs

Charles has now his own web site , unfortunately it is designed as more PR exercise, than as a real attempt to give out information. You will not find out much more about the Duchy, but you will be able to read his latest speeches!

And I can resommend our Duchess of Cornwall web site for a more detailed look at the Duchess of Cornwall, previously Camilla Parker-Bowles. And wife of the Duke of Cornwall since 2005.

Cornwall Tourist Information Cornwall Calling front page

The hotel to stay at when visiting Cornwall is Corisande Manor Hotel, Cornwall find out more about it