London: A new academic study into the legal rights of Prince Charles has revealed that the heir to the British throne has the authority to set off nuclear explosions without criminal punishment.
John Kirkhope, a visiting research fellow at Plymouth University, studied UK legislation and government archives and deployed the Freedom of Information Act to unveil the legal privileges of Charles.
He discovered that the Prince of Wales is exempt from sanction over a range of laws, including the UK’s Data Protection Act, and enjoys significant protection for his property compared with other landowners.
“It is suggested that most people would find it odd that the Duchy of Cornwall (Prince Wales’ royal property) can cause a nuclear explosion without criminal sanction,” Kirkhope writes in the study titled ‘Is the Duchy free to break the law without criminal sanction?’, which is to be published in the ‘Plymouth Law and Criminal Justice Review’.
According to The Times, he found a range of laws which contain provisions that the Duchy will not be made criminally liable for contraventions.
They include the Data Protection Act 1998, the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, the Water Industry Act 1991, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Nuclear Explosions (Prohibition and Inspections) Act 1998, the Transport Act 2000, the Licensing Act 2003 and planning acts.
Britain’s parliamentary draughtsmen give the Crown immunity to the Duchy based on a law officer’s opinion written in 1913.
The law officer stated that the lands of the Duchy were “in the hands” of the sovereign whenever there was no eligible male heir to the throne, but in the hands of the Prince of Wales when there was one.
Since the monarch sometimes held the land, the estate had crown immunity.
Kirkhope argues that this “fundamentally misunderstands” the nature of the royals’ interest in the Duchy.
“They have no right whatsoever to its land or other property. Their sole entitlement is payment of the income which the Duchy generates,” he writes.
A spokesperson for Clarence House, Prince Charles’ royal office, said “Statutes are a matter for Parliament”.