email a friend iconprinter friendly iconDuchy of Cornwall
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The duchy provides the prince's entire annual income—13.2 million pounds (23.5 million dollars) in 2004—which covers most of the cost of his official duties, his charitable activities, and all his private expenses. It is money that comes as rent from roughly 250 tenanted farms and from, among many other sources, transatlantic undersea fiber-optic cables and a gay bar in London. The only real curb on the prince, aside from easily roused British public opinion, is the government's treasury department, charged by law with ensuring that management of the duchy finances safeguards the interests of future Dukes of Cornwall.

Home farm, encompassing 1,060 acres (429 hectares) near Highgrove House in bucolic Gloucestershire, is to country as Poundbury is to town. Highgrove is the place Prince Charles considers his real home, and the farm is the seedbed for his ideas about sustainable agriculture.

If you had stopped by last autumn, on the drizzly day he hosted the annual National Hedgelaying Championships, you could have seen him, dressed in a pink open-neck shirt under an old tweed jacket patched up with leather, hacking away at a tall hawthorn hedge and binding its tough stems into stock-proof fencing. He hadn't planned to practice his own skills at hedge laying when so many professionals were demonstrating their prowess farther along the hedge line, but he just couldn't stop himself. For the prince, the exercise is potent magic: It combines traditional craftsmanship with caring for a vulnerable landscape feature.

Elsewhere at Highgrove, you might have seen other curiosities, perhaps the prince's own pair of giant Suffolk punch draft horses, Duke and Emperor, hauling a hand-steered plow. He encourages the use of horses in the duchy to drag timber from steep woodlands that might be damaged by the wheels of heavy vehicles.

"It's a working farm—it's not meant to be a showpiece," said David Wilson, the manager of Home Farm, hurrying off on his stork-like legs to check two quar- antined calves suffering from ringworm. In their barn he had tied a bunch of holly twigs to a beam above their heads, like a get-well bouquet. "It's a folk remedy," Wilson said. "They say it works, We will give anything a try."

At Highgrove, a reed bed is used to filter sewage from the main house, and the sheep, cattle, and pigs include an array of officially designated "rare breeds" forgotten by mainstream farmers. "The modern idea," the prince said, "was that you had to have ever more high-yielding animals. These traditional breeds are coming into their own because, of course, you don't want ever greater production, you want animals that are better quality, and you want animals that are better adapted to their local conditions. All this was being thrown away." The prince sees vindication in recent changes to the European Union's farm subsidies, which now emphasize environmental sustainability rather than output.

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