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357-year-old royal bill paid off

Prince Charles makes good on the big tab to a clothier run up by Charles II when he was the king of Scotland.

June 15, 2008|Gregory Katz | Associated Press

LONDON — 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 last week 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 the throne as king of England.

Worcester businessmen have been trying to collect payment for 15 years. 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.

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 ($92,000), according to the British Broadcasting Corp.

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