Saturday, October 06, 2007

And Then There Was One

Plans to offer balloon rides at a site in Devon, England, have been stalled by an interesting clause in a 1920 deed conveying the land.

"The conveyance includes a clause that the covenants imposed by it will operate only 'during the life of any lineal descendant of Queen Victoria alive at the date of the conveyance and within 21 years of the death of the last survivor'.

"Because this clause, or variations of it, was used extensively prior to 1925 we have researched the genealogy of Queen Victoria's descendants.

"There are a vast number of them and surprisingly two who fitted the above description were still alive a couple of years ago. [Link]
Too bad there's not a website listing Victoria's descendants, indicating which are alive and which dead. Oh, wait, there is. The only surviving descendant who was alive in 1920 is Prince Carl Johan of Sweden (b. 1916). It isn't noted on the website yet, but Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark (b. 1913) died last Tuesday.

Craig Manson

Law students will recognize this clause as an example of the so-called "Rule Against Perpetuities." It's actually a limitation on the reach of the "dead hand" to control the use of the land. Without this Rule, then theoretically, the covenants which are currently preventing the modern use of the land could last beyond the death of Prince Carl Johan forever!


Thanks, Craig! I should put you on retainer.

Apparently this instance of the rule is called a "Royal lives clause." In the U.S., Rockefeller or Kennedy clauses are used.

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