Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A New Way To Pay Old Debts

I subscribe to British Heritage Magazine, and I was particularly struck by this tiny article in the most recent issue called Settling a 17th Century Score. However this is from the San Francisco Gate newspaper:

"Prince Charles has paid off a royal debt from the 17th century, but showed modern-day fiscal prudence by declining to pay the accumulated interest, which would have been substantial after more than 350 years.

Charles made the payment of 453 pounds and 3 shillings — about $900 — during a visit Tuesday to Worcester with his wife, Camilla. The debt was incurred in 1651 when King Charles II — at the time recognized only as the king of Scotland — was preparing for the Battle of Worcester.

He had asked the Clothiers Company of Worcester to prepare uniforms for his soldiers and pledged to pay afterward. But his forces were defeated and Charles fled to mainland Europe, leaving behind the unpaid bill.

Charles II never got around to paying it after he returned from exile in 1660 to claim his throne as king of England.

For the last 15 years, Worcester businessmen have tried to collect payment. Prince Charles decided to pay it as "a gesture of good will," according to a statement released by his office.
The prince handed the payment — enclosed in a 1650s-style gaming purse made by the Royal Shakespeare Company — to Andrew Grant, master of the Clothiers Company. Charles received a receipt for his payment after the brief ceremony at the Commandery, which served as the royal headquarters during the Battle of Worcester.

"We are very grateful to the Prince of Wales for repaying the debt to the Worcester Clothiers Company," Grant said.

The Clothiers Company, founded in the 13th century, is one the last of the medieval-era guilds still active in the area. Prince Charles said he was happy to take care of the debt, but said he would not be paying the interest because "I was not born yesterday." With interest, the bill would have exceeded 47,000 pounds ($94,000), according to the British Broadcasting Corp.

What I love about this article is a) in a 25 year reign, Charles II didn't find the time to pay his debts but he did find time to spend lavish huge amounts on his various mistresses and waging war against the Dutch. And b) no British monarch, including the current Queen, bothered to pay back the debt. Oh, and the guild has tried for the last 15 years to get someone in the Royal family to pay back the debt but only Prince Charles decided to do it.

Not that he's exactly broke, which is why I have to laugh at him not wanting to pay the accumulated interest on a 350 year old debt. He apparently made $70 million dollars last year from his Duchy of Cornwall and its assorted products.

The Royal family, they is cheap.

1 comment:

Kwana said...

You are so funny. They is cheap. Love that!