Saturday, 2 April 2011

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are guests at the Duke of Wellington's controversial estate in Granada

GRANADA (Agencies) It is confirmed this morning that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are staying over the weekend at the Duke of Wellington's estate in Íllora, Granada. The finca is some 30 kms from the city of Granada and is used mostly by Lord Douro, heir to the 8th Duke of Wellington, who is over ninety years old. The estate was built in the very early 19th century by Manuel Godoy, the so-called Prince of Peace, who eventually fell from the favour of King Fernando VII. The estate, called Soto de Roma, was then given in perpetuity by the Courts of Cadiz in 1813, to the first Duke of Wellington in gratitude for his help in the War of Independence from France (the Peninsular War in British history books). It is a very large estate that Prince Charles knows well, having stayed there in the late 1980s with Princess Diana, and later with Camilla when they were lovers. Lord as Douro is a close friend. Also known as La Torre (The Tower) the large estate occupies the entire Dehesa Baja in Íllora. Among other titles poured upon Sir Arthur Wellesley, before becoming Wellington in the early 19th century, the King of Spain also named him Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo. The initials W and CR are part of the main gateway's ironwork, but the estate is controversial.>
Local residents don't expect to be seeing much of the royal couple because their council doesn't get on well with the estate manager, who refuses all interviews. Nevertheless, the royal couple have been officially invited to the Tapas Festival scheduled for this weekend, though it is doubtful they will attend.
The socialist Mayor of  Íllora, Francisco Domene, plans to initiate procedures to have the estate returned to the municipal patrimony because he and several historians argue that the Dehesa Baja (dehesa is translated as 'meadow', which is inaccurate as to size) was never part of the Soto de Roma estate. One historian, Miguel Ángel Espejo, also a lawyer, blames the first estate manager, J. O'Lawlor, for occupying the dehesa illegally.

This theory is based on the Diccionario Geográfico by Pascual Madoz, which refers to the dehesa as 'usurped' and even mentions that it was returned to the town on three occasions. Recovering the documents used by Madoz is by all accounts essential to the battle the council expects to mount with a view to expropriating the land that, it says, could generate "employment in the area"

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