Duchy of Lancaster
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About the Duchy
Properties & Estates
What is the Duchy of Lancaster?
The Duchy of Lancaster is an ancient body responsible for managing an investment portfolio of land, property and financial investments. It also undertakes various administrative duties associated with the area of the historical County Palatine of Lancaster (today, primarily Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside). The Duchy’s main purpose is to provide income for the Sovereign as Duke of Lancaster, although the Sovereign is not entitled to any of the capital assets of the Duchy. Established over 700 years ago, the Duchy of Lancaster is a body created under Charter.
Is the Duchy of Lancaster the same as the Duchy of Cornwall?
No. While the two Duchies have similarities, the management and control of the Duchy of Cornwall is entirely separate to that of the Duchy of Lancaster. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, as the heir to the throne, receives the net income from the Duchy of Cornwall.
Who owns the Duchy of Lancaster?
The estates and jurisdiction known as the Duchy of Lancaster have belonged to the reigning Sovereign as Duke of Lancaster since 1399.
Why was Her Majesty The Queen referred to as the Duke of Lancaster and not the Duchess of Lancaster?
Historically, Queen Victoria considered that the title ‘Duke’ was the proper title for the holder of a Dukedom whether man or woman, that of Duchess being a courtesy title for the consort of a Duke. Throughout Her reign, Queen Elizabeth was also sometimes referred to as the Duke of Lancaster. However, the use of the title is considered to be dependent upon the pleasure of the reigning monarch and is not used on official or formal documents or on state occasions.
Who runs the Duchy?
The Duchy is administered on behalf of the Sovereign by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Clerk of the Council. Recent Chancellors have delegated some functions, including management of the Duchy’s assets, to a body called the Duchy Council. The members of the Duchy Council are appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Chancellor. The principal officers who carry out day-to-day duties are:
The Clerk of the Council (the Chief Executive Officer)
The Chairman of the Council
The Chief Finance Officer
Who is the present Chancellor of the Duchy?
The Chancellor is a Government Minister appointed by His Majesty The King on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Rt. Hon. Oliver Dowden CBE MP is the current Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He was appointed in October 2022.
Is the Duchy run using taxpayers’ money?
The Duchy is completely self-financing and does not rely on any taxpayers’ money.
Where does Duchy income go?
The net income of the Duchy is paid to the reigning Sovereign as Duke of Lancaster. The annual accounts of the Duchy are submitted to Parliament. Full copies of recent years’ accounts can be found on this website.
Does the Duchy appoint magistrates?
No. Magistrates throughout England and Wales are appointed by the Lord Chancellor. Until 31 March 2005, magistrates in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Furness in Cumbria were appointed by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on behalf of the Sovereign.
How do I apply to become a magistrate?
To apply to become a magistrate you should complete an application form. These can be obtained from the Ministry of Justice website –
Does the Duchy receive money from the estates of people who die?
The Duchy Solicitor administers the assets of individuals who die intestate (without a will) in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Furness (The County Palatine) where no legal beneficiary can be traced, strictly in accordance with the law. The administration of any assets of dissolved companies is carried out in a similar way.
Where does the money go from the estates of people who die without leaving a will?
The net income from these estates is transferred to registered charities established by the Duchy, after allowing for the cost of undertaking the duties and responsibilities associated with the historical obligations of the Duchy.
How do I find out in the County Palatine if the Duchy is dealing with the estate of a relative of mine who may have died intestate (without a will)?
You need to write to the Duchy Solicitor with a simple family tree showing your relationship to the deceased. Letters should be sent to: Solicitor for the Affairs of the Duchy of Lancaster, Farrer & Co, 66 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3LH. Please note: The Duchy Solicitor does not administer intestate estates outside the County Palatine, this is handled by the Treasury Solicitor (www.treasury-solicitor.gov.uk)
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