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6.7.08

What is Cornwall? 3

I have been aware of the Cornish national question in one way or another since childhood. Songs in the pub, overheard comments amongst adults, the flickering flame of our language, graffiti that called for a “Free Kernow” and much more, all of this has fashioned my opinions of today.

The Cornish constitutional question however is a different kettle of slippery fish that I first became aware of back in 2001. Of course I knew there was a ‘Duchy of Cornwall’ but that was as far as it went. The TGG website followed by the works of the Stannary Parliament completed by the book -Our Future Is History- were a real discovery and pushed me in to action.

With the information I had at hand I decided to set about asking the questions that these peoples' findings posed. I wanted answers but also I wanted to demonstrate what one person, inside or outside the Duchy, could do with access to the internet and a keyboard.

Almost the integrality of my letters and responses can be found here and here and here.

I’ve come to a dead end is the sad truth, even the use of the Freedom of Information act has provided little. I have been referred from one government department to another and back again for years now. The two ‘black hole’ like options left open to me are pointless searches through the parliamentary or national archive at great expense (and as we all know with absolutely no chance of finding anything) or asking the Duchy who refuse to respond.

I have no more ideas and I’m open to all suggestions.

Hopefully the new website from John Angarrack -The Duchy of Cornwall Human Rights Association- will stir things up.

My own opinion on the constitutional question is that there is a “let sleeping dogs lie” mode of operation. Most civil servants have absolutely no clue when it comes to the Duchy and only know of Cornwall in terms of an English county. A few more perhaps know that the Duchy of Cornwall is a special beast that seems to exist outside the law. Finally a very small number are aware of the fact that the Duchy is above the law and has a valid legal claim over the territory of Cornwall. It is from this small minority that resonate the lullabies to keep the Cornish dog snoring and ensure difficult questions get snuffed out and inconvenient facts forgotten. Perhaps between the Duchy (Monarchy) on one side and the Westminster government/parliament on the other we have a constitutional game of chicken, the Duchy with its legal claim facing parliament with its political dominance. The sad fact of course is the collateral damage this struggle between royalty and parliament has had on the Cornish identity.

When did all this start and what has really happened? Surely these are questions that our Institute of Cornish Studies needs to answer.

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