By Luke Salkeld
As the future king, Prince Charles might be expected to encourage any chance of discovering hidden treasure within his realm.
But instead he has been accused of profiteering from such efforts, with plans to charge for the use of metal detectors on his land.
Anyone activating the devices on beaches within the Duchy of Cornwall, could have to pay up to £60 for the privilege.
The estate, which owns over 130,000 acres of land, has previously not allowed metal detecting at all, and the organization said it was responding to increasing calls from enthusiasts to permit their hobby within its boundaries.
But treasure seekers claim the annual charge would be both unfair and unworkable.
The Duchy said plans to allow metal detecting on foreshores, the area of land between low and high water, were still in their infancy.
But Cornish archaeologist Jonathan Clemes accused the Duchy of trying to make money out of the hobby.
He said: ‘People could just be walking the beach and finding these things without a detector. There shouldn’t be a charge.’
He added: ‘You get people who go fishing on these beaches all day and you don’t charge them, and how are you going to police it?’
Metal detecting enthusiast Mick Turrell organizes group expeditions and owns a shop which sells the detector devices.
He questioned why he should pay to explore Duchy land, which is owned by the Prince of Wales, but not Crown estate land, which is owned by the Queen.
He said: ‘[People] have a choice. They can go and detect on the beaches on Crown estate land for free.
‘If they come to Cornwall they have to decide if they can afford it because it is a lot of money they will have to pay out. They are rightfully upset about it.’
Yesterday a spokesman for the Duchy said the metal detecting police was still being developed, with a view to granting licenses on specific areas of the coast after researching various aspects of safety and protection of the environment.
The cost would be £50, with the VAT charge adding a further £10.
She added that no licenses had yet been issued and said: ‘Any fees are to cover administrative costs. A lot of research has to be carried out.’
The spokesman said it was also considering a holiday license for £20, valid for up to two weeks, which would be aimed at families and individuals staying in the county for a short time.
The Duchy owns vast tracts of coastline in Cornwall and has announced plans to charge people a fee to use metal detectors along its beaches.
If the licenses do come into use, any finds of treasure on Duchy land would be subjected to the Treasure Act of 1996 which obliges finders to report their discovery to their local coroner within 14 days.
Under English law a landowner has sole title to any archaeological artifacts found on his or her property.
A reference to the new Duchy of Cornwall policy on its website instructs: ‘Metal detecting on parts of the Duchy of Cornwall’s un-let Cornish foreshore may be permitted subject to a license agreement by the Duchy.’
It goes on: ‘Applicants should be members of an organization which endorses the Code of Practice for Metal Detecting […] such as the Federation of Independent Detectorists.’
It adds: ‘Metal detecting on all other Duchy owned land is not permitted.’
Courtesy Mail Online