Prince William is to learn to be a farmer, preparing himself to take over the Duchy of Cornwall, it has been reported.
The Duke of Cambridge is believed to be heading to a land economy course at the University of Cambridge, the Sun reports, after quitting the military this year following a stint as a search-and-rescue pilot on Anglesey.
The £700 million Duchy estates, which cover swathes of the West Country, as well as property in London and further afield, provide an £18 million income for the heir to the throne – and it would seem that William plans to be even more hands-on than his father, who takes a firm interest in countryside issues from his base at Highgrove, Gloucestershire.
A source was quoted in the Sun as saying: "William is taking on a huge responsibility with his father's estate. He's wise to put himself in a position to learn how to get the best out of it."
An announcement on the Prince's future is to be made after Christmas, with a Kensington Palace spokesman saying it is "too early to discuss specific details".
The duchy has a financial investment portfolio and owns land totalling 540.9 km² (or 208.9 square miles).
Nearly half of the holdings are in Devon, with other large holdings in Cornwall, Herefordshire, Somerset and Wales.
For the fiscal year 2011, the duchy was valued at £728 million, and annual profit in 2011 was £18.3 million, thus yielding 2.8 per cent.
The duchy also exercises certain limited legal rights and privileges across Cornwall, including some that elsewhere in England would usually belong to the crown.
As a crown body, the duchy is exempt from paying corporation tax. Since 1993, the Prince of Wales has voluntarily paid income tax on that part of the duchy income which is used to meet personal expenditure.
Prince Charles paid a voluntary contribution to the treasury of 50 per cent of his duchy income from the time he became eligible for its full income at the age of 21 in 1969, and paid 25 per cent from his marriage in 1981 until the current arrangement commenced in 1993.
Tax is calculated after deducting business expenditure, the biggest source of which is the Prince's staff of about 110 who assist with his performance of official duties, including private secretaries and a valet working in his office at Clarence House and at Highgrove House.
Detailed records are kept to determine the split between official and private expenditure
The duchy was established in 1337 out of the former earldom of Cornwall by Edward III for his son, Edward, Prince of Wales, the "Black Prince", who became the first Duke of Cornwall.
The duchy consisted of two parts: the title and honour, and the landed estate that supported it financially. The core of the estate at its foundation was the 17 duchy manors found within the county. The duchy does not share the same boundaries as the county, and much of the estate has always been outside those boundaries. However, the duchy maintains a special relationship with Cornwall, and maintains various rights, such as that of appointing the county's High Sheriff.
Prince Charles holds an "holistic" approach to farming.
"I happen to believe that if you treat the land with love and respect then it will repay you in kind," he wrote in his book Highgrove, Portrait of an Estate.