Charles pressured ministers to secretly change law to benefit his estate, documents reveal

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He lobbied to have some tenants of his £1billion Duchy of Cornwall estate exempted from what became the 1993 Leasehold Reform Act. The act gave long-term tenants the right to buy their freehold or extend their leases.

Conservative housing minister Sir George Young and his colleague Tony Baldry wanted to avoid giving the Prince or other big landowners special treatment, papers from September and October 1992 show.

But they backed down, fearing a “major row” and constitutional crisis after Charles objected to Duchy tenants in Newton St Loe, Somerset, having the same rights as leaseholders around the country.

Civil servant JE Roberts advised: “I assume the will of ministers can ­prevail over that of monarchy, but a ­constitutional crisis would add a further dimension of controversy to the bill which would be better avoided.”

The Prince’s repeated efforts to win exemptions for the Duchy, a landed estate that owns properties in 23 ­counties, have left tenants in some areas, particularly Newton St Loe and the Isles of Scilly, at a financial ­disadvantage that persists to this day.

Charles exploited a controversial convention known as Prince’s Consent which allows the heir to the throne to veto legislation affecting his interests.

A Duchy spokesman said: “The Duchy of Cornwall estate is exempt from leasehold reform legislation but has agreed to act as if bound in, apart from in a very small number of ­specifically identified areas including Newton St Loe.”

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