Prince Charles makes £1m from poorly-planned deaths

Prince Charles samples Cornish aleDavid Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

It has emerged that an odd quirk in inheritance laws means that in the last six years, Prince Charles has made an astonishing £1 million from the estates of people who have died without making a will.

So how has he got this cash, and can that be right?


Odd law

The strange quirk emerged with the publication of the accounts of the Duchy of Cornwall - which showed that he made £552,000 from this power last year alone.

It comes from a centuries-old law, which is part of the rules of intestacy. If you die without making a will, your estate is assigned according to certain rules. Your spouse will benefit and any children, if they're not around it passes to their descendants.

If you don't have a spouse or children, it passes up the family tree to parents and siblings. If there's no-one left there it passes to parents' siblings and their descendants. If there is no-one who fits any of these criteria, it passes to the state.

In Cornwall, it goes to Prince Charles.

Duchy of Cornwall

It's part of his rights as the Duke of Cornwall - which was the title given to the eldest son of the monarch in the 13th century. He gets a swathe of land with the title - much of it in Cornwall - but also includes the Oval and the Isles of Scilly. He also gets the right to rental income from those with property on his land, plus the estates of those who die intestate. In all, his income from the Duchy was £18.3 million last year.

Anti-monarchy group Republic, has been campaigning for an end to the Duchy. Graham Smith, chief executive said that all the assets of the Duchy "rightly belong to the nation" and called for these funds to be paid to the Treasury as they are everywhere else in the UK. He added: "The Duchy does not belong to the royal family, there is no justification for millions of pounds of public revenue being handed to Charles every year."

10 of the weirdest celebrity products
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Prince Charles makes £1m from poorly-planned deaths

When it comes to bizarre celebrity products, they don't come much weirder than the Bill Wyman Signature Metal Detector, designed and marketed by the former Rolling Stones bass guitarist.

Apparently, Wyman, who is now in his mid-70s, loves archaeology and has used his own metal detector to find relics in the English countryside dating back to the Roman Empire.

Fans of US president Barack Obama can show their appreciation for the politician by buying a Barack Obama Chia - shaped like the president's head - and growing grass out of the top of it.

And for those who prefer a more historical theme to their garden ornaments, Chias shaped like the heads of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are also available.

Action star Sylvester Stallone put out a protein-infused pudding designed to appeal to fans keen to build muscles like the big man's.

Unfortunately for them, however, the pudding has now been taken off the market.

Heiress Paris Hilton endorses numerous products, ranging from outfits for your dog to hair extensions.

But the most random Paris Hilton product on the market has to be her line of craft supplies, the Creativity Collection, which features items such as stickers and transfers.

Rapper Snoop Dogg's latest business venture is a "smokeable" lyric book.

"Rolling Words: A Smokable Songbook" contains the words to some of Snoop's biggest hits, including "Ain't Nothing But A G'Thang" and "Gin and Juice" - all on cigarette rolling papers.

Hollywood film director David Lynch loves coffee so, of course, he decided to make his own.

Embarrassingly, the tagline on the David Lynch Signature Cup is "It's all in the beans ... and I'm just full of beans."

Former boxer George Foreman's grill is undoubtedly the most successful, random celebrity product of recent years.

The "machine", which claims to reduce the fat content of your meal by 42%, has earned Foreman more than $200 million over the last decade or so.

Supermodel Heidi Klum has her own line of low-fat sweets, which includes Heidi's Yogurt Dessert Cremes and Heidi's Yogurt Fruit Cremes.

Apparently, the design of the sweets is influenced by icons that Klum uses in her text messages to friends. Strange.

Actor Danny DeVito is such a big fan of Italian liquer Limoncello, he decided to launch one of his own.

Called Danny DeVito's Premium Limoncello, the diminutive star claims that it's "like pouring yourself a glass of liquid sunshine straight from Italy's Sorrentine Peninsula".

Steven Seagal made his name leaping around in action films that allowed him to show off his martial arts prowess. But he is also behind an energy drink called Lightning Bolt.

Advertised as being "packed with vitamins and exotic botanicals", it sounds like just the tipple if you are planning to take on 10 armed men with your bare hands.



However, it's worth bearing in mind that Prince Charles personally chooses not to profit from death, and for the last 40 years he has donated the cash to charity.

Over the last seven years, The Duke of Cornwall's Benevolent Fund has donated nearly £800,000 to projects close to his heart, such as the environment, community projects, art, religion and education. For example, in 2001, it donated £100,000 to farmers in the South West after the devastation of Foot and Mouth disease.

And while there are those who would argue that his income is unearned and unfair, there are others who highlight that maybe he needs the cash. His accounts were revealed in June this year, and it emerged he spent over £20 million during the year - £700,000 more than a year earlier thanks to the Royal Wedding and the 'cost of Kate'.

It included an impressive £35,000 on clothes for his new daughter-in-law. Plus, of course, someone has to pay for his three chauffeurs, five chefs and kitchen porters, two valets and 19 gardeners and estate workers.

But what do you think? Should the Treasury get the cash, or does the charity spend the cash just as wisely? Let us know in the comments.

Tax tricks to improve your wealth
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Prince Charles makes £1m from poorly-planned deaths

If you wear a uniform of any kind to work and have to wash, repair or replace it yourself, you may be able to reclaim tax paid over the last four years. For some people, this could mean a windfall worth hundreds of pounds

The interest you receive on savings accounts (with the exception of cash Isas) is automatically taxed at a rate of 20%.

Higher-rate taxpayers therefore tend to owe money on the interest they are paid throughout the year. If, however, you are on a low income or not earning at all, you should be able to claim all or some of the tax deducted back

You can apply for a refund of vehicle tax if you are the current registered keeper or were the last registered keeper of your vehicle that no longer needs a tax disc

If you pay tax on a company, personal or State Pension through PAYE (the system employers use to deduct tax from your wages), you may well end up overpaying

There is a limit to the amount you need to pay in NI, whether or not you work for an employer.

Instances in which you may find that you have overpaid include if you work two or more jobs and earn more than £817 a week and if you move from self-employment to employment, but continue to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions


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