Prince William has inherited a lavish estate in the West Country where it is thought King Charles wanted him to settle down with Kate Middleton.

The rambling country estate at Harewood Park in Herefordshire was bought by the Duchy of Cornwall shortly before William went to university in Scotland.

Royal watchers claimed Charles wanted to create a new Highgrove for his eldest son after he applied for planning permission to rebuild a grand mansion house on the estate, replacing the one demolished by the SAS in the 1950s, reports GloucestershireLive.

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But it soon became clear that William had other ideas and the plans for a manor house were quietly dropped last year as he prepared to move to Windsor Castle with his wife and three children.

However, he has now inherited the property as part of the £1billion, 128,000-acre Duchy of Cornwall estate, which theoretically means he could revive his father's plans for a modern house fit for the future King.

The Duchy acquired the 900-acre delipidated property in 2000 and work started on an ambitious £9million renovation of farmhouses, cottages and other agricultural buildings three years later.

Around the time William graduated, architect Craig Hamilton designed a Georgian style mansion complete with lavish columns. The plans for the countryside mansion were approved by Herefordshire Council planners in November 2004.

It was thought that Charles was creating a future family home for his son that would be within driving distance of his own Highgrove House estate in the Cotswolds where William grew up.

In 2007, when William and Kate briefly split up, the Duchy successfully submitted alternative plans for a scaled down six-bedroom mini-mansion.

It looked traditional but was smaller and packed out with 21st century environmentally friendly features.

But that house was never built. Last year the Duchy confirmed it had finished its work at Harewood End and William and his family moved to Windsor while still retaining their first home, Amner Hall, in Norfolk.

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William, the now-Prince of Wales, could theoretically do another U-turn and ask the Duchy to create the grand home on the estate, although there are no indications that he will do so.

Also, as William and his representatives have been attending high level non-executive committee meetings of the Duchy for some time, he is likely to have been involved in the discussions about ditching the mansion plans.

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