What is the Duchy of Cornwall?
The Duchy of Cornwall is a well-managed private estate which funds the public, charitable
and private activities of The Prince of Wales and his family. The Duchy consists
of around 53,408 hectares of land in 23 counties, mostly
in the South West of England.
The Duchy estate was created in 1337 by Edward III for his son and heir, Prince
Edward, and its primary function was to provide him and future Princes of Wales
with an income from its assets. It was traditional for many centuries for families
with landed estates to settle the land and other assets in trust, so that each generation
could live off the income but was unable to dispose of the assets.
Successive governments have concluded that the Duchy is an appropriate source of
private income for the Monarchy. The principal activity of the Duchy is the sustainable,
commercial management of its land and properties. The Duchy also has a financial
Who is the Duke of Cornwall?
The Prince of Wales became the 24th Duke of Cornwall on The Queen's
accession to the throne, in 1952. When His Royal Highness was 21, in 1969, he became
entitled to the full income of the Duchy and took over its management.
Who manages the Duchy?
Dukes of Cornwall have traditionally managed their own estates. The current Duke
is actively involved in running the Duchy and his philosophy is to improve the estate
and pass it on to future Dukes in a stronger and better condition. The Prince of
Wales himself takes a long-term stewardship approach and has proved that environmental
and agricultural best practice are compatible with a sound financial return. For
example, The Prince has helped to increase the Duchy’s capital value –
to which he has no access - by 80% in the last six years.
However, because the Duke of Cornwall is not entitled to have or to spend any of
the Duchy’s capital (but is only entitled to its annual income) the Duchies
of Lancaster and Cornwall (Accounts) Act 1838 gave the Treasury a role to ensure
that actions taken by any Duke when managing the Duchy cannot compromise the long
term value of the estate. For this reason the Treasury must, for example, approve
all property transactions with a value of £500,000 or more. The Duchy’s
annual accounts are laid before the House of Commons and the House of Lords so that
Parliament can be satisfied that the Treasury is fulfilling its statutory responsibilities.
The “board” of the Duchy is The Prince’s Council, which is chaired
by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. It meets twice a year. The “chief
executive” is The Secretary and Keeper of the Records. With the exception
of the Secretary and Keeper of the Records, The Prince’s Council is a non-executive
body which provides advice to His Royal Highness with regard to the management of
The management of the Duchy operates under the overall guidance of The Prince’s
Council and subject to the Treasury supervision referred to above. Several members
of The Prince’s Council also sit as non-executives on one or more of the Duchy
sub-committees. The sub-committees presently operating are: Finance and Audit, Executive,
Agricultural, Commercial & Development, and Remuneration. It is through this
structure that the requirements of The Prince’s Council are delivered to the
Executives and the resulting activities reported back The Prince’s Council.
Who is The Duchess of Cornwall?
Born Camilla Rosemary Shand on 17th July 1947, The Duchess of Cornwall
married The Prince of Wales on 9th April 2005. Her Royal Highness acts in support
of her husband, The Prince of Wales, in his work and role as Duke of Cornwall. The
Duchess takes a close personal interest in the estate’s land and tenants and
has accompanied His Royal Highness on a number of Duchy engagements. The Duchess
is also Patron of a number of Cornish Charities.
What happens when there is no Duke?
When there is no male heir, the Duchy reverts to the Monarch, and
the annual Civil List is reduced annually by the amount of the Duchy’s income.
Who will be the next Duke of Cornwall?
The charter establishing the Duchy ruled that each future Duke
of Cornwall would be the eldest surviving son of the monarch - and the Heir to The
Throne. When the current Prince of Wales accedes the throne, Prince William will
become Duke of Cornwall.
Does the Duchy own all of Cornwall?
Of the Duchy's 53, 408 hectares, 7,119 (13 per cent) are in Cornwall.
The County of Cornwall covers 354,920 hectares, so the Duchy only owns 2 percent
of the County.
Is the Duchy of Cornwall the same as the Duchy of Lancaster?
No. While the two Duchies have similarities, the management and
control of the Duchy of Cornwall is entirely separate to that of the Duchy of Lancaster.
The Duchy of Lancaster is a similar body responsible for managing an investment
portfolio of land, property and financial investments. It also undertakes various
administrative duties associated with the area of the historical County Palatine
of Lancaster (today, primarily Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside). The Duchy of Lancaster’s main purpose is to provide income
for the Sovereign as Duke of Lancaster. The Sovereign is not entitled to any of
the capital assets of the Duchy. Established over 700 years ago, the Duchy of Lancaster is a body created under
Is the Duchy of Cornwall the same as Duchy Originals?
The Prince’s food company Duchy Originals is a separate organisation
to The Duchy of Cornwall. The Prince started the company, which donates all of its
profits to charity, in 1992. The Prince’s original aim in setting up the company
was, firstly, to benefit the environment and soil health through a more sustainable
approach to farming; secondly, to demonstrate the advantages of added value marketing
and, thirdly, to raise money for charity and help farmers face what he felt was
to be an uncertain future. Details about Duchy Originals can be found on the
How is the financial security of the Duchy protected?
Because of the central and continuing role of the Sovereign and the Heir to the
Throne, special safeguards are put into place for the Duchy of Cornwall, even though
it is a private estate. In other words, because the Monarchy is a continuing institution
and because it is right that it should have some private income and financial independence,
controls are needed to ensure that one generation does not ‘sell the family
Under the 1337 charter, as confirmed by subsequent legislation, The Prince of Wales
is not entitled to the proceeds or profit on the sale of capital assets, and only
receives the annual income which they generate (which is voluntarily subject to
To ensure that the estate is protected effectively, and for the benefit of future
generations, the Duchy’s ‘trust provisions’ have, over the years,
been set in legislation, with the financial security of the Duchy overseen by HM
Treasury. For example, all property transactions with a value of £200,000
or more are approved by the Treasury.
Why isn’t the Duchy of Cornwall audited by the National Audit Office?
Because it is a private estate rather than a publicly owned entity. It is, however,
audited by independent external auditors.
Does the Duke of Cornwall pay tax on the income from the Duchy?
Yes. Like everyone else, The Prince of Wales pays income tax including on his income
from the Duchy of Cornwall. The Prince of Wales also pays Capital Gains Tax on all
capital gains which he receives; however, he does not receive any capital proceeds
or gains from the Duchy of Cornwall because he is not entitled to them.
Does the Duchy pay corporation tax?
The Prince already pays income tax on the Duchy’s surplus.
If the Duchy also paid corporation tax, the Prince would effectively be taxed twice
on the same income. Only companies pay corporation tax; many other large organisations
which are not companies pay income tax.
Does the Duke or Duchy of Cornwall pay capital gains tax?
The Prince pays capital gains tax but not in respect of the Duchy of Cornwall because
he does not receive the capital gains (as he is not entitled to the capital assets).
Although The Duchy is exempt from capital gains tax the Duchy’s Capital Gains
have to be reinvested in the business and cannot be distributed. It is thus likely
that no significant Capital Gains tax would be payable as a result of normal business
Where does the Duchy’s surplus go?
Since it was established in the 14th century the Duchy's main purpose
has been to provide an income, independent of the Monarch, for the heir apparent.
The current Prince of Wales chooses to use a substantial proportion of his income
from the Duchy to meet the cost of his public and charitable work. Last year The
Prince of Wales helped to raise over £100 million for charitable causes. The
Duchy funds the public and private lives of four members of the Royal Family - The
Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Prince Harry. Details
of how the income from the Duchy is spent are given in The Prince of Wales’
Annual Review which can be seen here.
Does The Prince receive civil list funding?
The Prince does not receive Civil List funding. The Prince chooses
to spend the majority of the Duchy income on his work and charitable activities.
How can I find the Duchy accounts?
The Duchy’s accounts, which are audited by a professional auditor, are, through
the Treasury, laid before the House of Commons and the House of Lords so that Parliament
can be satisfied that the Treasury is fulfilling its statutory responsibilities.
They are public documents and are available from this
site here, larger
public libraries, and The Stationery Office at and hard copies can be ordered
from The Stationery Office.
The Prince of Wales also publishes details of his income and expenditure
in his Annual Review.
What should I do if I want to rent property from the Duchy?
The Duchy lets agricultural, residential and commercial property. The turnover of
tenants is very low and vacancies are relatively rare. These are usually advertised
in the local press or through local letting agents. If you aware of property that
you want to rent you should contact the local Duchy office.
Metal detecting on parts of the Duchy of Cornwall's un-let Cornish foreshore may
be permitted subject to a licence agreement granted by the Duchy. Applicants should
be members of an organisation which endorses the Code of Practice for Metal Detecting
in England and Wales such as the Federation of Independent Detectorists or the National
Council for Metal Detecting. All licence enquiries should be made direct to the
Liskeard office on 01579 343149 . Metal detecting on all other Duchy owned land
is not permitted.
It is a long established convention that The Prince, as Duke of Cornwall, is asked
by Parliament to provide consent to those bills which Parliament has decided would
affect Duchy of Cornwall interests. The same process is followed with regards to
The Queen providing consent to bills that would affect Crown interests. In modern
times, neither the Sovereign nor the Duke of Cornwall has ever refused to consent
to any bill affecting Crown or Duchy of Cornwall interests. Every instance of The
Prince’s consent having been sought and given to legislation is a matter of public