National Geographic : 2006 May
BUYING INTO THE ROYAL VISION The Parmenters(above) have lived happily in Poundburyforfive years. With its narrowstreets, local-stonefacades, and eclectic roofscapes (right), the prince's model town in Dorset embodies many of his most cherishedprinciples,honoringpedestrianover car, traditionalover modern. Breaking the commercial mold wasn't easy, Charlessays. "I suppose you could say-it's radical." duchy rented two of its 340 island properties as holiday cottages, each earning up to $3,000 a week, easily ten times the rent a Scillonian would pay. "The prince goes on about affordable hous ing," a local boatman said. "It's just hypocrisy. Don't quote me, though-most of my business comes from the duchy." The duchy regards the income from the cottages as a necessary extra return on the investment it makes in the islands' infrastructure. What does Prince Charles make of the housing situation? "Many of the people on the Isles of Scilly," he replied, "have lived there for gener ations, and it matters to me desperately that they continue to do so. The duchy recognizes the problem of affordability and has provided a number of affordable homes for local people in addition to twenty houses for key workers. But more needs to be done, and that is why we are working to build new affordable homes." Soon enough, Prince Charles will assume his 114 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * MAY 2006 mother's duties, and such questions will face the next Duke of Cornwall, Prince William, who is now 23. "I have been trying to create more of a family feeling about the duchy, so that it becomes a slightly more personal exercise," the prince said. It is no exaggeration that Prince Charles has done more for-and with-the duchy in 40 years than all his forebears in nearly 700. His deepest hope now is that William will carry on his vision, strengthening the relationship he has worked to forge with the tenants. "I just love the idea of my son continuing with them," the prince said, speaking so softly he was nearly drowned out by the Clarence House clocks chiming the hour. O Private Kingdom For centuries income from the Duchy of Cornwall has supported the heir apparent. Is there a place for an active monarchy today? Share your thoughts in our forum at ngm.com/0605.