At its origin, the Duchy consisted of two parts: the title and honour (known as the dignity) and the territory (landed estate) which supported it financially. Now, of course, much of its income derives from financial investments as well, though the role of the land remains significant in providing a training ground for the heir to the throne to meet a cross-section of his future subjects.
The two titles, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, are held by the same individual but are nevertheless distinct. This is reflected nowadays in the two separate organisations of The Prince of Wales’s Office and the Duchy of Cornwall which work together to support the heir to the throne. The title Prince of Wales is the older of the two titles, and is conferred by a special creation unlike the title of Duke of Cornwall which is hereditary and is either inherited at birth or on the accession of a new monarch to the throne, when his or her eldest son becomes Duke. Prince Charles, for example, became Duke when his mother acceded to the throne as Elizabeth II in 1952 and was created Prince of Wales on 26 July 1958 at the age of nine.
The current Prince of Wales is the 24th Duke of Cornwall and one of the longest-serving. In 2002, he celebrated fifty years as Duke, matched only by George Augustus Frederick (future George IV) who served from 1762 until 1820 and Albert Edward (future Edward VII) who served from 1841 until 1901.