With the death of England’s Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8, 2022, Prince Charles became King Charles III, and his oldest son, Prince William, became the heir to the throne. For William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, who until yesterday were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William’s new place in the royal pecking order will come with some changes.
The seasoned pair have obviously had years to prepare for this moment, so none of it will come as a surprise, but some of the differences will be significant as even more scrutiny will likely be on them than ever.
With the ascent of Charles, 73, to the throne, William and Kate, both of whom are 40, will assume a new duchy (a territory belonging to a duke or duchess) and the vast fortunes that come with that, and new titles.
On Sept. 9, Charles bestowed upon them the title of Prince and Princess of Wales — the traditional title of the heir apparent.
Before Elizabeth’s death, Charles was Duke of Cornwall, a title William automatically took after his father’s ascent. In addition to the change in title, William and Kate will be entitled to the profits of the Duchy of Cornwall, an estate that’s valued at more than $1 billion, according to estimates.
The Duchy of Cornwall has a long history, dating back to 1337, when King Edward III established it to provide independence for his son and heir, Prince Edward. Since then, it has been passed to the eldest son of each British monarch, as its charter declares.
William’s new duchy encompasses 135,000 acres of land in southwest England and an investment portfolio. The land estate includes farms, residential and commercial properties, as well as natural resources like quarries, rivers, forests and coastal areas. As of 2017, the net value of the duchy was $1.2 billion.
Since Edward III established it, the Duchy of Cornwall has been passed to the eldest son (daughters aren’t beneficiaries) of the British monarch at birth, or when his parent succeeds to the throne. For William, it was the latter.
Though he cannot sell it, William can live quite comfortably off the profits, like the 24 Dukes of Cornwall preceding him. In 2017, Charles earned around $27.3 million from the duchy.
Given his mother’s historic reign, Charles was the longest-serving Duke of Cornwall in history. He was given the title when Elizabeth took the throne in 1952. He was just a toddler then, and it wasn’t until after his 21st birthday that Charles took over management and began receiving its income.
How Charles Changed the Duchy of Cornwall
While the financial independence that comes from the duchy is its primary purpose, it didn’t seem to be just about the earnings when Charles was in charge. During his tenure, Charles took an active, hands-on approach to managing the estate. He and the whole family visited the estate regularly, and Charles is credited with helping implement sustainable initiatives, including renewable energy and organic farming, to improve it.
Both of the current monarch’s sons, William and Prince Harry, have already had a taste of the duchy’s riches. In addition to funding his own charity, the Prince’s Trust, Charles has used the fortune to support his boys. They have benefitted from its annual income and watched their father manage it their whole lives, setting William up to handle the duties naturally.
If William continues his father’s legacy of nurturing the estate, there will be many prosperous years to come. And we’ll certainly have adorable photos of family visits to the communities and farms to look forward to as well. When William ascends to the throne one day, as is expected, his own eldest son, 9-year-old Prince George, will become Duke of Cornwall.
What Does Elizabeth’s Death Mean for Prince Harry’s Children?
Despite being members of the British royal family by birth, the children of Harry and the former Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, did not have titles while Elizabeth was alive. However, with the ascent of Charles to the throne, Archie and Lilibet now do.
According to CNN, a 1917 decree made by King George V stated that all grandchildren of the monarch would have royal titles. This does not include great-grandchildren and beyond, meaning Harry’s children weren’t to be given titles until their grandfather, Charles, became king.
With Elizabeth’s death, the pair became His Royal Highness Prince Archie of Sussex and Her Royal Highness Princess Lilibet of Sussex.
While it’s long been planned for, long been planned for, the death of Elizabeth clearly means a time of great changes for the royal family.