THE DUCHY OF CORNWALL
Recent events have brought the Duchy of Cornwall, or rather its revenues, very much to the fore. There has been much coming and going of its officers ; never have they occupied so prominent a
position in the public eye. Indeed, the public may well
have wondered at this sudden importance the Duchy has
attained ; it has served to call to mind the existence of
a peculiarly interesting institution, with a constitutional
status and characteristics all its own, of which few people
are aware and with which only a few lawyers are com
petent to deal.
It is first necessary to clear out of the way the popular
confusion between the Duchy and the county of Cornwall.
They are, of course, two entirely separate entities, utterly
differing in character. The one is an ordinary — or to a
Cornishman, a not so very ordinary — English shire, as it
might be Devonshire or Dorset ; whereas the Duchy is an
institution, a great landed estate vested in the eldest son of
the Sovereign (or, in the absence of a son, lying dormant in
the Crown), an estate which has been based from time
immemorial upon extensive lands in Cornwall, and which
has existed as a duchy, save for the interregnum of the
Commonwealth period, since 1337. So that we are just
on the threshold of celebrating its sexcentenary.
The habit of referring to the “ Duchy ” when people
mean the county of Cornwall is no doubt due more than
anything to one of Q,.’s early books, The Delectable Duchy,
the title of which caught on and has become popularised
over the last forty years — in itself a tribute to that charm
ing volume of stories.
I remember, when my name was entered in the reg