Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A football pitch, public land, and an interesting pro-life message

Here's the story: The London Telegraph has an article about an interesting situation involving a football [soccer] team's place to play.  The team has played on land which was donated to the soccer club in 1922 by a wealthy woman as a tribute to the bravery of the men of the village who fought in the 1st World War.

Here's where it gets interesting: The gift of the land came with the condition that, twenty-one years after the death of King Edward VII's last living descendent (a boy whose mother was Edward & Alexandra's daughter, Maud, and who would later become King Olav V of Norway), the land would change ownership and be owned by the town.  King Olav died in 1991, and so since then the town has been waiting for 2012, when the codicil would kick in and the ownership of the land would change.

Here's where it gets reeeeeeeally interesting: The club management is challenging the transfer in ownership based on the exact wording of the transfer.  The words technically says that ownership changes twenty-one years after the death of the last grandchild "in being" at the time the agreement was signed.  Taking "in being" literally, the lawyers are arguing, the actual last grandchild was the Earl of Harewood (a boy, George Lascelles, whose mother was Princess Mary, the granddaughter of King Edward and so a direct descendent who would later become the Earl of Harewood).  Lascelles was born on February 7, 1923, only a few months after the land gift was signed, and so was, at the time, in the womb of his mother.  Lawyers for the soccer club contend that he was the last descendent of King Edward "in being" at the time the gift took place.  Lord Harewood died last July, and lawyers argue THAT'S when the 21 year countdown to the transfer of ownership began.

Lawyers for the soccer team and the town, of course, take positions on both sides.  It will be interesting to see if English courts rule that a child in the womb (albeit 89 years ago) counts as "alive"?

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