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24.8.15

Cornish Devolution, Duchy and Republicanism

Queen Elizabeth II is the monarch of sixteen Commonwealth Realms 1, three Crown Dependencies 2, fourteen British Overseas Territories 3 and various Australian and New Zealand Overseas Territories 4. None of those Realms, Dependencies or Territories has a relationship with the Crown which is as ambiguous as that of Cornwall and in none of them does the same situation with regard to the ownership of land apply. The land of Cornwall is owned by the Duke of Cornwall. There is no other province, county, shire, call it what you will, in which the ultimate owner of the land is other than the monarch or the State. This is an issue which I shall explore in more detail shortly. Already it is clear Cornwall is different.

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?

The Regional Languages of France: Challenges and Opportunities in the Twenty-First Century

13.8.15

Dr Benjamin Zephaniah on Cornish and Welsh

"I am a multiculturalist. In England, on the whole, when we talk about multiculturalism, we tend to talk about black people, Asian people and people who have brought their cultures here, and sometimes we forget that there are local cultures which are very different to English mainstream culture and literature. So when I come to Wales, I treat Wales like a different country with a culture and language of its own. And if Wales is a part of Britain, then that culture is an important part of Britain - as important as Jamaican culture, Trinidadian culture or Indian culture for example.

That's why I've always said that the Welsh language should be taught in schools in England. Hindi, Chinese and French are taught, so why not Welsh? And why not Cornish? They're part of our culture, and I know of people in England who don't know that people in Wales speak Welsh, or that there's a Scottish language." - Dr Benjamin Zephaniah

"Dwi'n berson aml-ddiwylliannol. Yn Lloegr, yn gyffredinol, pan rydan ni'n trafod amlddiwylliannaeth rydan ni'n cyfeirio at bobl du, pobl Asiaidd a phobl eraill sydd wedi dod â'u diwylliannau yma, a rydan ni'n anghofio weithiau bod 'na ddiwylliannau lleol sydd yn wahanol iawn i ddiwylliant a llenyddiaeth prif ffrwd Saesneg. Felly pan dwi'n dod i Gymru, dwi'n trin Cymru fel gwlad wahanol gyda'i hiaith a'i diwylliant ei hun. Ac os yw Cymru yn rhan o Brydain, yna mae'i diwylliant yn rhan bwysig o Brydain hefyd - yr un mor bwysig â diwylliant Jamaica, Trinidad neu India er enghraifft.

Dyna'r rheswm dwi'n dweud y dylai'r iaith Gymraeg gael ei dysgu mewn ysgolion yn Lloegr. Mae Hindi, Tsieinëeg a Ffrangeg yn cael eu dysgu, felly pam ddim Cymraeg? A pham ddim Cernyweg? Maen nhw'n rhan o'n diwylliant, a dwi'n gwybod am bobl yn Lloegr sydd ddim hyd yn oed yn gwybod bod pobl yng Nghymru yn siarad Cymraeg, neu fod 'na iaith Gaeleg yn yr Alban." - Dr Benjamin Zephaniah

The full article in Welsh and English can be found here: What the English could learn from the Eisteddfod - BBC Cymru Fyw

Fine sentiments from Dr Zephaniah and I can only hope the BBC in Cornwall, who at times appear rabidly anti-Cornish, take note. But as long as unhealthy relations abound between LibLabCon politicians and BBC journalists I won't hold my breath.

La Cornouailles sur la voie de l'autonomie : rencontre avec John Pollard, président du Cornwall Council, à l'occasion du Festival Interceltique

11.8.15

Cornish not English - time to tell Census 2021

"Cornwall and Yorkshire show regional identities run deep in England, too" - an article which perhaps kind of misses the point that for many Cornish people Cornwall isn't in or part of England. In Cornwall exists a national identity distinct from English and/or British, and whilst I doubt you'll find many ready to claim Yorkshire isn't England, in Cornwall its a different story.

Today, as a fully recognised national minority alongside the Scottish, Welsh and Irish, it's only proper that the Cornish be provided with a tick-box option on the 2021 UK census. I'll be writing to the Census people and I strongly advise all those concerned to do likewise. You can find their website with contact details here - Census 2021 consultation. Please do take the time to contact them.

For some inspiration on what to write then visit these three excellent websites: