• July 5, 2013


The Duchy of Cornwall may be an arcane vestige of a bygone era and part of a monarchist system that many nationalists in the Celtic countries associate intimately with the imperialistic English Crown, but for a majority of Cornish nationalists the ‘Duchy’ is an aspect of Cornish heritage that is inextricably linked to Cornish independence, history and law.

This may be hard to understand for many Celtic nationalists outside of Cornwall who think that anything linked to the English Crown is wicked and should be abolished for the sake of freedom. However, in Cornwall, many nationalist would argue that the existence of the Duchy of Cornwall adds legitimacy to the Cornish cause and is Cornwall’s strongest argument for self-autonomy. The argument for why the Duchy of Cornwall is inextricable linked to Cornish autonomy is complex and some would say ‘mysterious’, but centres on the belief that the Duchy of Cornwall is a public body and not a private estate, which the Duchy of Cornwall states.

The Duchy of Cornwall, as can be seen from their statement in response to the ‘Dispatches’ programme on the English Channel 4 television station on July 1st 2013, believe that the Institution is a ‘private landed estate’, but for many this description is simplistic and misleading. For Cornish nationalists the Duchy of Cornwall is using the complexities of the English legal system (which includes the ban of all questions relating to the Duchy being asked in the Houses of Parliament), to illegally siphon off millions of pounds of profit annually for the benefit of one family, when it should be used for the benefit of the Cornish people.

In recent years the Duchy of Cornwall has come under increasing scrutiny, largely through the efforts of the Cornish Stannary Parliament, and through an increasing awareness among people living in Cornwall that they are virtually powerless over certain aspects of their lives and property where the Duchy is concerned. A recent publication by John Kirkhope that sets out some the anomalies relating to the Duchy was published last month on the web (see link below) and gives the reader an insight into the lack of accountability that the Duchy of Cornwall enjoys.

Some Cornish nationalists however would argue that the truth of the position of the Duchy of Cornwall is not mysterious at all, but can be explained clearly and logically and one or two have even tried to do this in a court of law. However, when the head of the Duchy of Cornwall is one of the most powerful men in the UK and wields unparalleled influence over English (and Cornish) law it is not that easy to express a critical view point!

The link to the programme, including the statement from the Duchy of Cornwall in response to the programme, can be found below.

Dispatches: the Prince and his Secret Properties (1st July 2013) –


Statement from the Duchy of Cornwall in response to the the Dispatches programme –


“A Mysterious, Arcane and Unique Corner of our Constitution”: The Laws Relating to the Duchy of Cornwall by John Kirkhope –

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot

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The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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