Prince Charles has been branded a "bully" by villagers after he wrote to them invoking an ancient right to mine under their homes.
Officials at his Duchy of Cornwall estate have sent letters to the residents of the Cornish village Stoke Climsland to inform them he owns the land beneath their houses, prompting accusations from homeowners that they are being “bullied” by the Prince.
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The Duchy wants the home owners to alter their property deeds to reflect his right to the metals and elements under their floors.
Cornwall sits on large beds of metals and minerals and moves are under way to revive its tin mining industry.
Clive Donner, one of the 1,600 villagers and a former policeman, said the Duchy had given them until Dec 3 to reply, the Plymouth Herald reported.
Mr Donner, a former police officer in London and with the anti-terrorist branch for more than 30 years, said: "This is just not acceptable in this day and age."
He explained that when he purchased the property he examined the deeds. "Nowhere does it mention that Prince Charles has the mining and mineral rights in or under our homes," he said.
If villagers object, they must seek legal advice and provide relevant documentation and deeds, which could result in legal bills of thousands of pounds.
"Employing a legal adviser would cost a small fortune and is out of reach for all of us," Mr Donner added.
“This is nothing more than bully tactics and has been done to ensure that the Duchy gets what it wants and that we, the actual owners, and the people who live here, have no chance to challenge the application.”
The Duchy insists that it has effectively owned the soil beneath the 130,000-acre estate since its creation in 1337 and is “simply registering its existing rights”.
A spokesman said mining and mineral rights were not included on the original Stoke Climsland deeds because a 19th-century act of parliament granted the mines and minerals reservations separately to the Duchy.