Prince Charles raked in £552,000 from the estates of dead people in Cornwall in the last financial year.

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The heir to the throne is entitled to the money thanks to a law made in 1337 by Edward III, although he does not keep the money and it goes straight out to charitable foundations.

In the majority of the UK, estates of people who die without making a will go to the government, but those in Cornwall – much of which is owned by the Prince of Wales – go to the Duchy thanks to the law, which is known as bona vacantia.

A spokesperson for the Duchy of Cornwall said: “The Prince of Wales decided almost 40 years ago that the bona vacantia funds should be given to charity.”

Some money is kept behind from what is handed over in case there are any claims on estates.

Since 2006, more than £1 million has gone to the Duchy thanks to the rule.

Last year, Prince Charles earned £18.3 million from the Duchy, most of which came from residential and commercial property rents.