Monday, November 27, 2023
King Charles's estate has announced the transfer of over £100 million, including funds collected from deceased individuals through the old system of bona vacantia, into ethical investment funds. This move comes amid increasing scrutiny over the Duchy of Lancaster's use of funds from people who have died in the north-west of England with no will or next of kin.
Some of the funds were used to renovate properties owned by the King, which were rented out for profit. Additional questions have been raised about managing bona vacantia funds given to the estate's charities, with two charities having built significant endowment funds worth over £40 million.
The Duchy of Lancaster has decided to shift its investment portfolio into environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds, aligning its approach with that of the Duchy of Cornwall. There is no indication that the estate plans to stop collecting bona vacantia or alter how it is spent. The Duchy of Lancaster and its charities' investment portfolios, totaling £74 million, are also being transferred to ethical funds.
For more information see Maeve McClenaghan, Rob Evans, and Henry Dyer “King’s estate to transfer £100m into ethical funds after bona vacantia revelations”, The Guardian, November 25, 2023.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.