Britain’s King Charles has been siphoning tens of millions of dollars intended for charity, thanks to a medieval law called “bona vacantia,” (vacant goods) which transfers the assets of those who died in a particular region without a will or known next of kin to the duchy. With said funds, Charles has been upgrading a commercial property empire managed by his hereditary estate.
Over the past 10 years, over $75 million in funds have reportedly been collected, despite pledges that the proceeds from such transfers would be donated to charity (of which only 15% has been directed), The Guardian reports.
Financial assets known as bona vacantia, owned by people who died without a will or known next of kin, are collected by the duchy. Over the last 10 years, it has collected more than £60m in the funds. It has long claimed that, after deducting costs, bona vacantia revenues are donated to charities.
However, only a small percentage of these revenues is being given to charity. Internal duchy documents seen by the Guardian reveal how funds are secretly being used to finance the renovation of properties that are owned by the king and rented out for profit.
The rule kicks in if someone whose last known address was in a territory known in the middle ages as Lancashire county palatine, and ruled by a duke. Today, this includes Lancashire and parts of Mereyside, Greater Manchest, Cheshire and Cumbria, per the report.
A leaked internal duchy policy from 2020 was used by officials to invoke bona vacantia in order to apply funds to the king’s profit-generating portfolio. The policy, codenamed “SA9,” acknowledges that there may be an ‘incidential’ benefit to the privy purse – aka the king’s personal income.
Properties identified in other leaked documents as eligible for use of the funds include town houses, holiday lets, rural cottages, agricultural buildings, a former petrol station and barns, including one used to facilitate pheasant and partridge shoots in Yorkshire.
Upgrades include new roofs, double-glazing windows, boiler installations and replacements of doors and lintels. One document references the renovation of an old farmhouse in Yorkshire, helping transform it into a high-end residential let. Another upgrade is helping turn a farm building into commercial offices. -The Guardian
As The Guardian further notes, the refurbishments have made rental properties more profitable, which indirectly benefits the king who receives tens of millions in annual duchy profits – income which Buckingham Palace says is “private.”
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