Published: May 2006

Duchy of Cornwall

Prince Charles

Prince Charles Not Your Typical Radical

Few royal landlords did much more than spend the profits from the Duchy of Cornwall, until Charles became a man on a mission.

By Sandy Mitchell
Photograph by Catherine Karnow

Prince Charles gave no warning that he was about to abandon his usual restraint. He simply began slicing the air with his hands as his voice rose in frustration: "I had witnessed this appalling horror of the 1960s, when everything was thrown away, denigrated, abandoned. I watched as woods were cut down, hedges uprooted, wonderful old buildings knocked down. I minded dreadfully.

"My whole aim was to repair the damage, to heal the wounds, as it were, of the countryside." Calmer now, his voice falling to its usual hoarse whisper, he settled back in the silk armchair, smoothing his flawless blue suit. Meanwhile, the uniformed footman at Clarence House, the prince's London mansion, went about his business, sliding in and out of the drawing room.

One day Prince Charles, now 57, will be crowned king (his mother is already 80). Judging from the way he has handled his inheritance so far—more than 135,000 acres (54,633 hectares) of mostly rural land known as the Duchy of Cornwall—the country may be in for some surprises. He has used this private little kingdom as a place to test solutions to the problems of modernity, for the prince believes, fervently, that life in both town and country has gone awry.

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