Sunday, November 26, 2023

It's a Family Tradition

Every time I get to thinking that the British monarchy is a quaint and harmless tourist attraction of a tradition, I run across a story like this:
Like many so-called traditions, the feudal hangover that is bona vacantia should have been consigned to the dustbin of history centuries ago, but it has been all too tempting for successive royals to preserve this royal fruit machine that pays out again and again. Over the past 10 years, it has collected more than £60m.

Under this system, the Duchy of Cornwall, owned by Prince William, can claim the assets of people who die in Cornwall intestate – without a will – if no relatives can be found. Charles’s Duchy of Lancaster does the same when their last known residence is within what was historically known as Lancashire county palatine.

Edward VIII found cash from those who died intestate in the boundaries of the duchy was sitting in an account in case claims arose against it. He simply stole a million pounds from it, leaving almost nothing in that kitty.

George VI did very well out of the loyal servicemen who died serving their country in the second world war, who originated from within the confines of the duchy and had no will. “For king and country” took on a whole new meaning.
Just reading the linked article made my tea-in-the-harbor throwing muscles twitch reflexively.

The archaic excesses of monarchy were a lot easier to overlook when its public face was the kindly old Liz the Deuce. Her kid Chuck, though, is a thoroughly unlikeable chap who must incite republican twinges in all but the most heavily starched Tories.

It seems like his reign would be an ideal time for Great Britain to spring forward into the mid-Nineteenth Century.