The above is part of the introduction from a paper called Cornwall - "A Category of its own?" produced by visiting research fellow at Plymouth University and Notary Public John Kirkhope. The paper in full can be found here and more of his work here.
Why do so many Cornish autonomists show a borderline pride in Cornwall's status as a Duchy when one would perhaps expect ardent republicans wanting rid of the English royals? British (mostly English in fact) republicans would argue that the Duchy, along with the rest of the Monarchy, should be abolished, whilst in the other Celtic nations exist far more open and vocal republicanisms. Why not in Cornwall? When you consider the long list of feudal undemocratic powers the Duchy has over Cornwall why the paradoxical royalism? One answer is that the Duchy is a marker of Cornish uniqueness - our specific accommodation within the UK - and a testament to our long lost independence. But to acknowledge the Duchy as a marker of distinctiveness is not to caution its existence and wish that it continue.
So how about the following as the starting point for a Cornish republican conversation? We demand a full public inquiry into the Duchy and its relationship to the territory of Cornwall and UK. We request that the Duchy be liquidated and its financial assets invested for the benefit of Cornwall whilst any of its unique rights, powers and privileges be vested in a democratically elected Cornish body of governance.
As I've been tapping this blog post Republic have launched their new campaign - Take back the Duchy. They write:
For certain Cornish autonomists and cultural admirers, the Duchy of Cornwall’s peculiar constitutional status gives Cornwall a degree of autonomy which it would otherwise lose. The argument goes that to attack the distinctiveness of the Duchy of Cornwall throws out the baby with the bathwater.
There’s actually some merit in this. Cornwall is constitutionally distinct from the rest of the UK. Cornwall, as a region, has a language, culture, religious tradition, climate and economy alien to the rest of the UK. Whatever its faults, the Duchy gives recognition to this.
But there are other ways in which Cornwall could express its distinctive culture in ways which are modern, democratic, and far less intrusive- the recognition in 2014 of Cornwall as having protected minority status is one.
Another concern is that if the Duchy were absorbed into the Crown Estate, it is unlikely that money generated would be re-invested in Cornwall. Cornwall, being generally less wealthy than other parts of the UK, is in greater need of this money. But actually very little of the Duchy’s revenue goes to Cornwall now. There is much to be said for earmarking revenues generated in Cornwall for expenditure in Cornwall- but this could be achieved by a separate department within the Crown Estate or by passing the funds to an independent trust. The Duchy as it currently exists is very poorly qualified to handle this kind of enterprise.
It should be stressed that Republic is proposing an end to the organisation of the Duchy, the operation that currently pays a multi-million pound profit to Prince Charles. We do not dispute Cornwall's unique status but would argue that along with the rest of the UK Cornwall deserves a more democratic and accountable settlement.
You can read what they have to say about Cornish distinctiveness and the Duchy here: Doesn’t this Undermine Cornwall’s Autonomy?