Fury over reports King Charles pocketed assets from people who died without a will

Fury over reports King Charles pocketed assets from people who died without a will

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Thousands of people who died in a specific area of north-west England known as the Lancashire county palatine without leaving behind a will or a known next of kin have had their financial assets collected by the Duchy of Lancaster for King Charles’ benefit – according to The Guardian.

More than £60m of “ownerless property” or bona vacantia (literally ‘vacant goods’ in English) has reportedly been scooped up by the duchy over the last decade, and used to finance renovations of the King’s estate which he profits from renting out.

The news, which The Guardian says comes from a leaked 2020 internal policy, is despite the Duchy of Lancaster claiming funds are distributed between charitable causes.

The aforementioned palatine today covers Lancashire and the surrounding areas, branching out into Greater Manchester, Merseyside and more.

And you may already be familiar with the Duchy of Lancaster as a concept, as the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is a government role - which is currently held by the former culture secretary, Oliver Dowden MP.

While Buckingham Palace declined to comment on The Guardian’s findings, a spokesperson for the duchy told the outlet: “The King reaffirmed that money from bona vacantia should not benefit the privy purse, but should be used primarily to support local communities, protect the sustainability of the land and preserve public and historic properties across the Duchy of Lancaster estates.

“This includes the restoration and repair of qualifying buildings in order to protect and preserve them for future generations.

“The cost of administering bona vacantia and any costs associated with the upkeep of public buildings and those of architectural importance, is also deducted.”

The campaign group Republic – which calls for the abolition of the monarchy in favour of a “democratic republic” – has led angry responses to The Guardian’s revelations on Twitter/X, with #AbolishTheMonarchy trending on the platform:

However, it’s also been pointed out that the claiming of bona vacantia is not new in itself (though the figures revealed by The Guardian are), as the practice dates back centuries.

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