The Duke of Cornwall has of late created many historical misrepresentations relating to Cornwall’s history and status. His website, which goes under the name of the Duchy of Cornwall, is one means by which he promulgates his message. As these misrepresentations undermine the Cornish identity, they hinder attempts to reap the political, educational and cultural benefits that are associated with possessing that identity. These misrepresentations also obstruct efforts to acquire the associated legal status and protections that accompany recognition and acceptance of that identity. In such circumstances, the Cornish have the right to refute the incorrect version of their history as promulgated by the Duke of Cornwall.
The problem with not responding to such claims is that they become accepted truths. As these ‘truths’ are widely disseminated, they are increasingly referenced by trusting compilers of school text-books, educationalists, politicians, editors of encyclopaedias/dictionaries, the mass-media, tourist guidebook writers, foreign commentators and the brochure-driven heritage industry. By this means the unsubstantiated claims become self-perpetuating ‘facts’. This is how Anglo-centric historians operate. In fact their whole historical presentation depends upon the three-fold practice of (a) refusing to return to primary sources, (b) rejecting material that does not support their pre-determined position and (c) recycling and re-generating myths.
The refutations contained herein give the duke the much-needed opportunity to correct the many errors that he has made in his interpretation of historical events, the status of the Cornish people and the legal position of Cornwall. Of course, if he chooses not to make corrections as appropriate we must assume that he deliberately promulgates this message, not only for personal gain, but also to aid long-term state political and ideological objectives.
These objectives include: the full assimilation of the Cornish people, the denial of their minority status, the statistical undercounting of their numbers, the appropriation and misidentification of their heritage sites, the ongoing refusal to assist their transition into a legally protected group, the withholding and misapplication of due cultural funding, the refusal to allow their children to enjoy due educational rights, the censoring and manipulation of their history for political and ideological purposes, the gerrymandering of their territory’s legal position, unrelenting administrative emasculation carried out under the guise of 'regionalisation', 'streamlining' or 'cost-saving' and the refusal to hold constructive dialogue on any of the above.
We have inspected the duke’s latest web-based utterings on the subject of Cornish history and in the following text, apply a degree of balance to some of those statements. We have at all times copied the duke word for word; not intending to plagiarize, of course, but to represent his position as accurately as possible.
It should be remembered that most damage is done not by what the duke says about Cornish history, but by what he does not say on that subject.
Ducal claim No.1.
The duke states: The Duchy of Cornwall was created out of the former Earldom of Cornwall by Edward III in 1337 in order to provide an income for his heir. From that day to this, its purpose has remained the same.
The Duke of Cornwall is always the heir to the throne of England. The pre-ducal Earldom of Cornwall had on many occasions provided an income for the heir without any prior need to re-order the existing constitution. In fact, so vast were the profits from Cornwall that Earl Richard, heir from 1227-1239, became the richest man in the known world with a personal fortune of £11.7 billion.(1) There was therefore no requirement in 1337 to recognise, or elevate, Cornwall’s constitutional status in order to provide an income for the heir. The duke’s underlying premise is therefore entirely misconceived. The formal re-ordering of the constitution was enacted for reasons other than to provide an income for the heir.
If we examine the existing version of the 1st charter, we discover that King Edward III was: anxiously concerned about how centralisation of power had left his realm: suffering deficiencies in titles, honours and dignity of rank. The charter makes it plain that the King and his Parliament wished to reverse this trend and devolve more power to Cornwall. In the charter’s words: more securely and fitly defend against the attempts of enemies and adversaries; preserve our inviolate peace and adorn places of note with their original ancient honours. The term original ancient honours in this charter, and chief rulers in the previous days Letters Patent, refer to the time when Cornwall was an independent kingdom. The intention of Parliament is clear. Cornwall was to be devolved and administratively de-coupled to the maximum possible extent. These are current Statutes in Force.
This is why the 1st duchy charter also vested Cornwall’s high offices of administration and governance within the Duchy of Cornwall i.e. it acknowledged that the duke has the: Shrievalty of Cornwall, with the appurtenances….as hath hitherto been accustomed to be done, without the hindrance or impediment of us or of our heirs for ever.
The High Sheriff’s Association informs that in 1337, the office of Sheriff [the Shrievalty] held: many of the powers now vested in Lord Lieutenants, High Court judges, magistrates, local authorities, coroners and even the Inland Revenue. The word: appurtenances, as used in the charter, means: that which is required to make something function.
Moreover, in the 1855-58 Cornwall ‘forshore dispute’ [shown elsewhere on this site] duchy legal officers were able to show that the Comitatus, or community of Cornwall, also passed to the duchy. The charter of 1337 is currently listed in Halsbury’s Laws as being a Constitutional Law Statute in Force. Its revealing full title is: Constitutional Law 10. A Charter of 1337 setting the Duchy of Cornwall upon the Kings eldest son, and prescribing its future devolution.
We can now see that, far from being a simple vehicle to raise income for the heir to the throne, the 1st duchy charter vested the full legal, fiscal and judicial infrastructure of the governance of Cornwall into the Duchy of Cornwall. This brings into question the lawfulness of administrative decisions and legal directives which constitute a hindrance or impediment to that which the law dictates must exist.
Two additional duchy charters, dated March 18th 1337 and January 3rd 1338, [the second and third duchy charters] both state: We have granted to the said Duke, for Us and Our heirs, that he and the first begotten son of him and his heirs kings of England, being Dukes of the same place and heirs apparent to the kingdom of England, do forever have the return of all writs of Us and Our heirs and of summons of the Exchequer ….in the said county of Cornwall; so that no sheriff bailiff or Minister of the kings shall enter therein to execute their writs or summons or other pleas or to do any office there; save in default of the Dukes, his bailiffs or ministers.
The 1st and 2nd duchy charters conclude with the phrase: By the king himself and all the council in parliament. They therefore have the full effect of statute law. By these charters, Cornwall had become a Crown dependency. It is now possible to see the false nature of the claim promulgated by Charles Windsor.
For his is a claim that, contrary to the duchy’s position up until 1858, portrays the Duchy of Cornwall as a trust-managed commercial real estate established for the sole purpose of generating funds for the incumbent. In other words, his claim is a thorough misrepresentation of the events of 1337/8 in that it omits to reference the important constitutional, judicial and political framework that was cemented into law by the charters.
Ducal claim No.2.
The duke’s website asks itself a question: What is the Duchy of Cornwall? The ducal response: The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate.
This is, for any number of reasons, wholly untrue. The Duchy of Cornwall is a UK Crown dependency operating outside of the laws of England and Wales. This is evidenced by over 150 Acts of Parliament, many of which acknowledge that the duchy is exempt from the laws that govern England and Wales.(2)
For example, the duchy is exempt from the provisions of the Town and County Planning Act 1990. Therefore the planning laws of England and Wales do not apply to the duchy. This was evidenced in 2002 when Kerrier District Council objected to duchy plans to commence development on one of its properties. The Head of State of the Duchy of Cornwall informed the UK government of dissent – and the government duly overruled the powerless council.
The language used by the duchy government when notifying the UK government is revealing: The proposed development was intended to be carried out by the Duchy on land in which no private interest exists. Therefore, the direct provisions of the Town and County Planning Act 1990 and appeal regulations do not apply.(3)
The Tamar Bridge Act 1998 is another revealing piece of modern legislation worthy of examination: - Section 41. Nothing in this Act affects prejudicially any estate, right, power, privilege, authority of exemption of the Crown, including [without prejudice to the general law concerning the applicability of statutes to the Duchy of Cornwall] the Duchy of Cornwall and in particular nothing in this Act authorises the Authorities to take use, enter upon or in any manner interfere with any land or herediments or any rights of whatever description……
The phrase: without prejudice to the general law concerning the applicability of statutes to the Duchy of Cornwall is worthy of closer examination. I am familiar with statute law, and I am familiar with common law. However, I have been unable to locate a precise legal definition of the term “general law”. Neither have I been able to ascertain its source, specific applicability or limits.
Clearly, the UK Parliament is sending a message to the Duke of Cornwall. That message is: the laws we pass do not necessarily apply to your Crown dependency. Thus confirming yet again that the duchy is a law unto itself - and within this secretive legal domain, a duke becomes king.