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Prince Charles: tax dodging, accountability and arrogance

Prince CharlesThe royal family, opinion polls told us last year, is enjoying its highest ever level of support – 80% favour the country remaining a monarchy including 74% of Labour supporters so this is not a propitious time to launch a campaign for a republic in Britain. However, Charles Windsor seems to be doing his best on behalf of socialists and republicans to bring the monarchy into disrepute by insisting, in his latest multi-million pound property deals, that he is neither accountable for his actions nor liable for taxes on his profits. His arrogance knows no bounds.

A recent judicial ruling declared the Duchy of Cornwall, one of Britain’s largest landowners, to be a “public body” potentially liable to freedom of information rules. Furthermore, the Duchy is subject to the financial scrutiny of Government whips and any financial transaction worth more than £500,000 by the Prince (whose legal staus is inseperable from that of the Duchy) must be approved by the Treasury.

However, according to a Duchy of Cornwall spokeswoman:

The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate, not a public body and is not funded by the taxpayer. The Prince of Wales chooses to use his private money from the estate to pay for his public duties, as well as those of the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

He also chooses to pay income tax on the income generated by The Duchy. The Duke of Cornwall manages the estate for present and future Dukes, and for the wider benefit of tenants, communities and the environment.”

Whilst we may wish to defer campaigning for an end to the feudal institution of the monarchy, there is no reason, for as long as it does exist, not to insist that the monarchy in all its aspects is publicly accountable. We are citizens, after all, not subjects.

That means we should insist both on accountability, including the right of access to information, and full liability to all forms of taxation. It is not reasonable that any public servant, royal or otherwise, should “choose” to pay some taxes but not others. And I suspect that quite a number of the 80% who wish to retain the monarchy would agree.

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