The Enchanted Glass: Britain and Its Monarchy by Tom Nairn “Dazzling, cliché-nailing … The first serious study for more than a hundred years to take a coldly analytical look at this most emotion-charged part of our heritage, it reflects a growing sense of the peculiarity of it all.”—The Observer
In this acclaimed meditation on the British state, its identity and culture, Tom Nairn sees the monarchy both as its apex and its essence, the symbol of a national backwardness. This powerful, analytical, and bitterly funny book lays bare Britain’s peculiar, pseudo-modern, national identity, one that remains fixated on the Crown and its constitutional framework, the “parliamentary sovereignty” of Westminster.
Lets hope Tom Nairn was well informed about the Cornish question and the Duchy of Cornwall before he wrote this book. Even if this is not the case then Nairn is still one of the most interesting writers to tackle the centralised and terribly outdated British state. More of his highly recommended writings can be found here at Our Kingdom.
Just some random thoughts on the Duchy of Cornwall.
When in debate with those opposed to any kind of Cornish recognition a frequent arguments encountered is that Cornwall has no particular constitutional status and that Cornish nationalists are lying if they say otherwise. Notably this argument has been most vehemently proffered by a handful of individuals interested in promoting a Celtic Devonshire – along with selling the newly invented Devon flag and bumper stickers of course. Perhaps readers will remember how the BBC helped them in promoting ‘Celtic Devonshire’ and the new flag. I wonder who got a kickback from merchandise sales? Anyway their constitutional argument often takes two perspectives: 1) That Duchy of Cornwall (DoC) estates and lands are mostly outside of Cornwall and therefore the Duke doesn’t own Kernow. 2) The Duchy of Cornwall is almost the same as the Duchy of Lancaster (DoL).
Bearing this in mind, why is it then that the territorial extent of the Duchy of Lancaster is no big secret? Why is it so easy to clearly differentiate the lands and estates the DoL owns from its actual constitutional territory? Have a look at the map -Properties and Estates- from their website if you need convincing. Equally the territorial extent of the DoL is clearly displayed on Wikipedia.
Good grief! Why is it so hard for the DoC to place a similar map on its website showing that, in a constitutional sense, it covers the territory of Cornwall in the same way the DoL covers the County Palatine of Lancaster? Why can’t the DoC admit, like the DoL seems so ready to do, that the estates and lands it owns outside Kernow are just its private investments, quite different from its actual constitutional territory – Cornwall. Even getting a map on Wikipedia showing the territorial extent of the DoC’s constitutional powers (ie Bona Vacantia) seems to be an impossibility.
What exactly is the difference between the DoL and the DoC that makes it so unsavoury for the latter to be honest?