A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess. Historically, some duchies in Continental Europe were sovereign, while others (especially in France and Britain) were subordinate districts of a kingdom.
See also: Grand Duchy.
For the history of duchies as an institution, see: Duke.
Duchies in the United Kingdom
The only modern duchies in the United Kingdom are those of Cornwall and Lancaster. Unlike historic duchies, these are no longer coextensive with a distinct geographic area, though they originate in the palatine counties of Cornwall and Lancaster. Rather, they are "Crown bodies," regulated by Acts of Parliament, that have some of the powers of a corporation or trust. They invest primarily in land, and their income is payable either to the monarch or the monarch's eldest son.
The Duchy of Cornwall currently owns approximately 141,000 acres (570 km²) in England. This includes just over 2% of the county of Cornwall. The majority of the estate lies elsewhere, with half being on Dartmoor in Devon. The income of the Duchy of Cornwall accrues to the Duke of Cornwall, who is the monarch's eldest son if heir to the throne (and thus currently the Prince of Wales). The estate reported a profit of over £7,800,000 for the year ending March 31, 2002.
The Duchy of Lancaster include Lancaster Castle and is administered by a Chancellor who is a member of the British Cabinet. The income of the Duchy of Lancaster accrues to the monarch, there being no Duke of Lancaster.
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46