- Prince William has inherited a property empire worth $1.2 billion from his father King Charles III
- In the past nine years, the value of the Duchy of Cornwall’s assets has risen by $350 million.
- Alastair Martin has overseen an expansion of the duchy’s commercial operations since joining in 2013.
Now that William has become the Prince of Wales after his father became King Charles III, he is the proud owner of property empire worth just over £1 billion ($1.2 billion) according to its latest annual report.
The Duchy of Cornwall owns more than 600 residences spanning more than 52,000 hectares, with nearly 3,000 tenants and generated profits of £23 million ($26.5 million) last year.
It also includes an experimental urban community called Poundbury championed by Charles and sells produce grown on its farms.
For most of its near-700 year existence, the duchy passively enjoyed the income generated by owning land. When Charles took his responsibilities more seriously as he came of age, that began to change.
Marlene Koenig, an academic librarian who has written about the Royal Family, told Insider: “That was really the beginning of looking at projects and how to grow the investment.”
While the new King has enjoyed the profits of the duchy thanks to the efforts of its 190 employees and a CEO-like figure called Alastair Martin.
Martin has been Secretary and Keeper of the Records for the Duchy of Cornwall since 2013. During that time the net value of its net assets have increased by 44% as it built new property and enjoyed the overall increase in the value of real estate in the UK.
Martin, who was a chartered surveyor and worked at property consultancy Carter Jonas before joining the duchy, is fully aware that the group is a commercial enterprise.
“I wouldn’t say profit is a dirty word, that’s why we exist,” Martin said about the Duchy in a 2021 conversation with the Royal Agricultural University.
When he took over, records show the duchy was making profits of £28 million ($32 million) on assets worth £763 million ($880 million).
Since then revenues from commercial activities and the sale of goods has risen by about £5 million ($5.8 million), while agricultural income has barely changed.
Expansion appears to have been driven by the duchy adding to longstanding assets like The Oval cricket ground in south London, Dartmoor Prison, and the Isles of Scilly. Last year, the estate bought property worth nearly £42 million ($48.5 million), including several housing developments.
The duchy also sold a 500 hectare property for £71 million.
But rising activity means operating costs have also doubled, with the duchy now spending more than £6 million ($6.9 million) on its wages bill. References to the duchy’s push to become net-zero too have mounted.
In addition to his personal environmental commitments, Martin says Charles was more generally “very hands-on” about how the duchy should invest its funds.
“He has met all of our main tenants … I have regular briefings with him,” Martin told an ITV documentary in 2019.
William is expected to take a similar hands-on approach after taking over responsibility for the duchy. Even as the property market braces for an economic downturn, the duchy could continue its expansion drive.
Martin was unavailable for an interview and the Duchy of Cornwall declined to comment.