The Duke of Cornwall, heir to the throne, Prince of Wales, wealthy in his own right (£18 million a year from the Duchy of Cornwall) and in receipt of state benefits (£2 million a year), also gets the money of the dead. Die intestate in Cornwall, without heirs, and whatever you’ve accumulated in your life (aside from your joys and sorrows) goes into the bank account of Prince Charles. It isn’t quite like the wealthy pensioners who were urged by Ian Duncan Smith to return their winter heating allowance to the cash-strapped government. Charles isn’t spending last year’s windfall of £450,000 on dancing girls and kedgeree; he’s using it – well, some of it – to fund his own special charities.
We all have our pet causes and often they reflect our lives, what we know about the world, how we would like it improved. We do what little we can with our surplus money to make things better for those having to go to food banks to feed themselves and their children, to animals abandoned or mistreated, those under siege from famine or war or sickness. That sort of thing.
Prince Charles has used the money of the dead to fund a scholarship to Gordonstoun, the rugged, outdoorsy boarding school he was sent to and was said to have hated. He’s provided £5000 to help send a Cornish child to his old school so he or she can be miserable there, too. But since the fees are £30,000 a year, it won’t be helping a very poor child to receive the privilege of cold baths and rambles in the rain 700 miles from home. Perhaps people with £25,000 a year for school fees but not £30,000 are what Prince Charles understands by poverty. The largest sum has been allocated to his charity Business in the Community, ‘whose supporters include some of the biggest companies in Britain’. Money has also gone to the Prince’s Foundation for Building Communities, which promotes his godawful ideas about architecture and planning for society, because growing up as he has, he knows so much about community. Quaint and deadly villages like Poundbury will save us from our new Poundland.
But he hasn’t been too open handed with the money. He only spent £100,000 of the £450,000 he took in last year, and £3.3 million is, as Father Ted said, ‘resting’ in his accounts waiting for him to think of something to do with it.
One other group must now be in receipt of extra funds as a result of Charles’s feudal right. I imagine that Cornish solicitors are currently run off their feet with customers suddenly seeing the good sense in making their last will and testament.