What’s the royal lives clause and how is King Charles involved in a Disney lawsuit?

King Charles has unexpectedly been mentioned in an ongoing legal dispute between Disney and the State of Florida

King Charles has been brought up in a Disney lawsuit. But why?
(Image credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

After Florida governor Ron DeSantis took legal steps to strip Disney World of various tax breaks, the world-famous franchise hit back with a legal clause known as the Royal lives clause – and it specifically mentions King Charles. Confused about how the British monarch factors into this latest dispute?

You might think King Charles has enough on his plate.

With the small matter of a coronation looming, the fact that US President Joe Biden might not be attending and the ongoing question on whether he’ll mend the rift with his son, Prince Harry.

So the last thing he’d need on his plate is being dragged into a legal tiff between the governor of Florida and Walt Disney World.

Tough news for the King – that’s exactly what’s happened. Sort of.

Ron DeSantis has lost his fight against Disney, and it's thanks to King Charles

(Image credit: Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

For context, In February, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill to strip Disney World’s special tax district, ending decades of the park operating under a self-governance status.

The move came after Disney challenged Florida governor’s Ron DeSantis’ controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

However, Disney fired back at the move, and this is where Charles comes in.

They approved a 30-year development agreement that effectively renders challenges from Florida’s governor powerless, according to its attorneys. Under the agreement, Disney can build high-density projects and buildings of any height and sell or assign development rights, all without board approval.

They added a final clause which stipulates that this agreement would last “21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, king of England.”

Charles, William and Harry - plus all their future children - are named in the lawsuit

(Image credit: Tim Rooke - Pool/Getty Images)

So, this rule would last as long Princes William and Harry, their collective five children (so far), and any other children they have, or the children their children would go on to have, on and on.

And then an extra 21 years on top of that.

While mentioning Charles and his family might seem oddly personal, this is actually a long-held legal tactic.

It’s called the royal lives clause and it dates back to 1692.

The Royal lives clause is a special legal loophole which invokes the current monarch

(Image credit: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)

For example, the royal lives clause can sometimes be replaced by president's lives clauses, where a law will be in place until a given amount of time after the last President of the United States passed away.

It’s a clever little tactic most commonly used as a way to avoid rules against perpetuities in common law. The clause lets attorneys establish a window of time that (most probably) would never actually expire – so it will exist in perpetuity (or, forever) without explicitly stating that.

King Charles might have been used in this example, but other important dynasties can often be used in their stead.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.