LONDON – Prince Charles has paid off a family debt from the 17th century, but showed modern day financial prudence by declining to pay the accumulated interest, which would have been substantial after more than 350 years.
The payment of 453 pounds and 3 shillings ($900) was made Tuesday during a visit to Worcester by Charles and 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 asked the Clothiers Company in Worcester to prepare uniforms for his soldiers and pledged to pay afterward — but his forces were defeated and Charles fled to mainland Europe.
He left behind the unpaid bill, and never got around to paying it after he returned from exile in 1660 to claim his throne as king of England.
Worcester businessmen have tried to collect the bill for the last 15 years, and Prince Charles decided to pay it as "a gesture of goodwill," according to a statement released by his office.
The Master of the Clothiers Company of Worcester, Andrew Grant, received the money from the prince in a 1650-style gaming purse made by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The two met at the Commandery, the royal headquarters during the battle.
"We are very grateful to the Prince of Wales for repaying the debt to the Worcester Clothiers Company," Grant said.
Prince 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 (US$94,000), according to the British Broadcasting Corp.