Back in the mists of time, where fact, fantasy and fiction blur Cornwall may even have been a Kingdom in its own right. However, by the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, Cornwall was an Earldom and remained that way until 1336. The Duchy was created by Edward III in 1336 to provide his son, Edward the Black Prince with an income. The Duchy of Cornwall was created as a Royal Duchy, and was to pass to the eldest son of the Sovereign, on occasions when there is no heir the title passes back to the crown. The Duchy was created from the lands and estate of the Earl of Cornwall, the last Earl of Cornwall, John of Eltham who was the younger brother of Edward III and died without issue at the tender age of 20 following a fever. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
The land holdings of the Duchy spread way beyond the borders of Cornwall, and have done since the creation in the fourteenth century. It now owns some 135,000 acres of land spread mainly across Cornwall, Devon and the Isles of Scilly, though there are holdings in twenty other counties spread across England. As previously stated, the purpose of the Duchy is to provide an income for the heir apparent, and to that end although they have title and benefit of the land they cannot sell any of the land for personal gain. The current Duke of Cornwall is Prince Charles and he has undertaken considerable work through the Duchy to ensure that not only does it provide an income for him, it also greatly benefits the people of Cornwall.
Prince Charles was proclaimed Duke of Cornwall at Launceston Castle in 1973, and when he married Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, she elected to use Duchess of Cornwall as her main title in England. Only this month, The Duke and Duchess together with the Queen and Prince Philip went to Poundbury as reported on Royal Central. This is land forming part of the Ducal estate near Dorchester, where in association with West Dorset District Council a new community was created in a development started in 1988 with a style of architecture and urban planning which reflected the Prince’s views. A similar development of 174 dwellings was started near Newquay in 2012, and a larger development of 800 homes, a school and shops nearby to this is also moving through the planning process.
The previous Duke before Prince Charles was Edward, Prince of Wales later to become Edward VIII. When George VI became King in 1936, he only had daughters and so the title remained with the Crown. It is a well-known fact, that the current British Royal Family are superb at succession planning, Prince William, Prince Charles’ eldest son is already a member of the Duchy Council and attends the twice-yearly meetings.