Prince Charles claims £1m from Cornish people who died without wills

Archaic rule boosts Prince of Wales’ £22m annual income from Cornish Duchy

Prince Charles
Prince Charles and wife Camilla during a visit to Cornwall in 2015
(Image credit: Ben Birchall/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Centuries-old rules have allowed Prince Charles to collect more than £1m of intestate wealth left by Cornish people in the past year, newly published accounts show.

Between April 2019 and the end of last year, the heir to the throne received a total of £868,000 from Cornwall residents who died without a will, or from dissolved but unclaimed companies, according to the latest Duchy of Cornwall revenues report.

A further £201,000 was collected between January and the end of the last financial year, in March - boosting the Prince’s total annual income from the Duchy to more than £22m.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Money from residents of Cornwall who die without leaving a will and who have no known surviving relatives goes to Charles thanks to “laws that govern unclaimed assets – or ‘bona vacantia’ – dating back to the reign of King William IV”, says The Telegraph.

Although unclaimed estates across most of England and Wales eventually become the property of the Crown, “Prince Charles, as Duke of Cornwall, retains some of this money in order to pass it back to any previously unidentified relatives who may later come forward to claim their inheritance”, the newspaper explains.

“However, all of the money generated from unclaimed estates is ultimately passed onto a benevolent endowment fund, which invests and grows the money, which is then used to pay out to charitable causes and institutions in Cornwall and the Southwest.”

And while the Prince makes most of his money from his Duchy of Cornwall land and property empire, he faces a “whopping cut” to his income next year as the coronavirus crisis takes a heavy economic toll, according to The Sun.

The financial blow “could even affect his ability to prop up Prince Harry and Meghan’s luxury life in Los Angeles”, the paper adds.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.