Archive image of the king of the United Kingdom, Charles III. (EFE)
King Charles III would be benefiting from the assets of thousands of citizens in the northwest of England who died without leaving a will, who “secretly” swell the monarch’s assets thanks to an antiquated feudal system, as revealed by the British newspaper The Guardian.
The Duchy of Lancaster is a group of lands and properties that generate enormous benefits for the assets of the British sovereign, who in recent years has obtained tens of millions of pounds under a protocol that dates back to feudal times, according to an investigation by the newspaper .
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Thanks to this system, the duchy keeps the financial assets owned by people who have died without having left a will or whose relatives are unknown. Thus, over the last ten years, the duchy has raised more than 60 million pounds (68 million euros) in funds and claims that the profits derived from those assets are donated to non-governmental organizations.
King Charles III, during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, Pool)
However, the aforementioned media maintains that only a small percentage of those profits are actually allocated to charity, based on information obtained from internal documents of the duchy to which the newspaper has accessed. These papers show how these funds are being used “secretly” to finance the renovation of the king’s properties, which are rented for profit.
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The Guardian recalls that the duchy inherits ‘bona vacantia’ funds – in Spanish, monastery assets – from people whose last known address was in a territory that in the Middle Ages was known as the county palatine of Lancashire and was managed by a duke. Today that area encompasses the counties of Lancashire and parts of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Cumbria.
Leaked internal documents from 2020 gave officials at the king’s estate a license to use bona vacantia funds in a wide range of profit-generating activities, according to the investigation. That clause recognizes that spending the money in this way could result in a “casual” benefit for Charles III’s personal income.
Other leaked documents identify properties considered suitable for use of these funds, including mansions, vacation rentals, rural cabins, farm buildings, a former gas station and barns. In addition, the renovations financed with these funds include the installation of new roofs, double glass windows, heater installations or door replacements, among others.
The information from the British media includes the testimony of three sources related to the expenses incurred by the duchy, which confirm that the monarch’s estate uses profits obtained from deceased citizens to reform its properties.