Prince Charles is currently facing a huge shortfall in annual income as his main source of it- the royal Duchy of Cornwall land and property empire - has shrunk due to the nearly three-month coronavirus-induced lockdown, newly released financial accounts suggest, as cited by UK Yahoo News. The news is even expected to have an impact on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who Charles had vowed to prop up as the two first announced in January their intention to lead an independent life away from the UK.
“We fully expect the revenue surplus [profits] to be down by a significant amount, in large part due to our trading enterprises being closed", Alastair Martin, the Duchy’s Secretary and Keeper of the Records, said.
The surplus, which makes up the 71-year-old prince’s annual income, rose to £22.2 million in 2019-20, up from £21,627,000 in 2018-19. However, the £617,000 rise comes with a warning not to expect the same again next year, as the major sources of Charles’ income heavily rely on local cottage rentals and tourism, now badly hit by the pandemic. When it first struck, the duchy's management arranged special deferrals for its tenants, as the travel industry froze and citizens’ renting and buying ability dried up as well.
"We have not availed ourselves of the various government pandemic support schemes but have continued to pay all staff", Martin explained adding:
"With the property market currently stalled, our ability to raise capital through property sales will be restricted".
The Duchy of Cornwall, which is separate from the Duchy Organic range of food products owned by Prince Charles and sold in Waitrose, is an estate that stretches through 23 counties and boasts a net value of £909 million. Charles, the Duke of Cornwall, does not have direct access to the capital value of the duchy, one of the two royal ones in England, which he inherited over 50 years ago as the heir apparent to the throne. He pays income tax on the surplus, which he uses to fund his family’s work, with William being the next in line to inherit it when Charles becomes king.
In January, after Prince Harry and Meghan dramatically left the Royal Family's inner circle to pursue a new life first in Canada and then Los Angeles, Charles vowed to “continue to offer private financial support”. Prince Harry and Meghan were previously reported to receive 95% of their annual income from the duchy, via Charles.
As the news arrived, more calls ensued for the duchy, formally a public land, to be transferred to British citizens.
"There is simply no justification for this ludicrous amount of money to be thrown at Charles when public services are stretched and local communities are impacted by the coronavirus", Graham Smith, of the pressure group Republic, said, arguing income from the properties there should serve the British people, "not one prince".