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The dirty duchies

As revealed by the Paradise Papers both the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster have used off-shore banking to avoid paying tax[1][2].

Not content with their already advantageous taxation and the millions of tax payers pounds spent on maintaining them in their opulent life styles, the two Duchies, and their respective Duke and Queen, evidently need more money. 

What the Paradise Papers tell us about the Queen and Charles

These feudal relics have no place in a modern democracy. An Omsav calls once again for a public enquiry into the Duchy of Cornwall and its constitutional relation to the territory of Cornwall followed by a public debate on what to do with it.  Hand the Duchy and all its rights, prerogatives and constitutional powers back to the people of Cornwall for them to decide its future.

While you might be disappointed by the almost total lack of comment from Cornish political circles on the double dealing Duke rest assured that others are trying to do the job: Paradise Papers: Write to your MP

Republic has written to MPs calling for them to investigate the finances of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall.

Earlier this week, leaked documents in the Paradise Papers revealed that both Duchies have been investing in offshore tax-havens, which while not illegal is ethically questionable. The monarch and heir to the throne should be setting the very highest standards.

In the case of the Duchy of Cornwall, there is also an allegation of a conflict of interest, and claims that Prince Charles didn't know about an investment in his friend's company aren't credible. Whether these claims are to be believed or not, it is vital that an investigation now takes place.

The Duchies are not private estates in the normal sense. They are governed by statute and their financial management is overseen by the government. It is important to note that the Duchies are there to provide private incomes for the Queen and Prince Charles, two people with comprehensive and secretive access to government ministers, civil servants and other decision makers as well as all cabinet papers.

The opportunity for misuse of funds, inappropriate investments, exploitation of privileged access to ministers or confidential information or conflicts of interest are considerable.

Whether individual MPs support the monarchy or not, they must agree that the financial affairs of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall should be of the highest standard of integrity and subject to proper scrutiny.

Write to your MP

Only MPs can introduce debates or ask difficult questions about royal funding and finances in parliament - so we need them to take action now.

Writing to your MP couldn't be simpler, and it's the best way to achieve the change we want to see. Visit writetothem.com to quickly email your MP about this issue - even if you think they'll disagree, they can only take action if they know how you feel about this issue. Ask your MP to write to the Treasury, calling on them to:

  • Investigate recent allegations and revelations concerning the finances of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall
  • Publish clear guidelines on the standards royal finances should meet
  • Require the Royal Household to declare financial interests and meet the same standards on conflicts of interest as ministers and MPs


Whose Europe?

Imagine if a large part of Texas wanted to breakaway from the Lone Star State to become a US state in its own right and the people voted by referendum accordingly. Would it be forced to immediately quit the US federal republic, abandon the dollar and see its inhabitants lose their US citizenship? Would the new state in waiting be forced to reapply for membership of the USA with the rest of Texas threatening a veto? 

How about a French speaking part of the majority German speaking Swiss canton of Bern wanting to separate so as to join the French speaking Jura canton. Would the 'rebel' territory suffer immediately expulsion from the Swiss confederation and its inhabitants lose their Swiss nationality?

No, of course not! Such matters of territorial reorganisation would be handled internally and democratically with very little fuss. So why not then for a region of a member-state of the EU that wishes to do the same? Such questioning gives the lie to the idea that Europe is in anyway federal or that EU membership gives its citizens rights above and beyond those of the nation-states. Changing internal borders would have no effect upon the inalienable right to citizenship of all US nationals. For the Catalans  and their EU citizenship it's not at all the same. For them leaving Spain equals leaving the EU, for if the Catalans have EU citizenship it is only thanks to their status as Spanish nationals. EU citizenship is simply a bonus attached to having French, Spanish, German or other member-state nationality. 

Even when the legality of what the Spanish governments is doing is far from sure, the EU's institutions come out firmly in favour of Madrid. Perhaps the EU's mask has started to slip.  What we see behind the mask is not a Europe of and for the people - EU citizens with inalienable rights and EU institutions with the highest democratic standards. No, what we see instead are the member nation-states  huddled together for the purpose of self-preservation - even if the threat is an internal one from the democratic desires of the citizens themselves.

After following the events in Catalonia I'm left with the feeling that more than one member nation-state would rather sink the whole EU project and rob every European of its benefits than see part of their territory secede and become a new EU member. Is this the menace from Madrid that has kept the rest of the EU member states inline with Spanish wishes?

EU beware! Many regionalists, autonomists and democratic nationalists - until recently all convinced EU federalists dreaming of a Europe of a hundred flags - are becoming increasingly disenchanted at a time when the EU needs all the friends it can get. Let the peoples of Europe seize back control of the European project from the hands of our self-centred nation states and their self-serving bureaucracies.