Disney thwarts DeSantis' oversight board takeover using bizarre legal tie to King Charles III of England

Published Apr 1 

The Walt Disney Co., amid its feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, invoked King Charles III in its attempt to stifle efforts by the Republican governor to strip the company of its self-governance power in the state.

In February, after nearly a year of lawmakers working to dissolve Disney's special tax district, DeSantis signed a bill into law that ends Disney’s self-governing power and puts the media giant under the control of a state board. The same month, in the hours before the Florida House of Representatives approved a state takeover, the board — still under control of Disney-allied appointees at the time — transferred many duties of the special district over to Disney's control.

According to developer agreements signed into effect Feb. 8, the same day the Florida House passed legislation to control aspects of Disney’s land, the Reedy Creek Improvement District transferred most of its power to Disney for the next 30 years.

The agreement — which gives Disney the ability to no longer seek board approval to construct complex projects or buildings at certain heights, as well as sell or assign development rights — used a royal clause dating back to 1692 in Great Britain.

The Walt Disney Co. — amid its feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — invoked a legal royal clause in its attempt to stifle efforts by the governor to strip the company of its self-governance power in the state. (AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC, Scott Olson via Getty Images)

"[This] Declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration," the document stated, referencing language used most often in the United Kingdom.

"So, as long as one of those grandchildren makes it 80, this clause would be there for 100 years," said Robert Lord, senior advisor on tax policy at progressive group Patriotic Millionaires, according to NBC News.

The agreement featuring the clause went into effect prior to Feb. 27, when DeSantis replaced the Disney-allied board members with Republicans. The moves were not widely discussed until a meeting of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board (CFTOB), formerly known as the Reedy Creek Special District.

"This essentially makes Disney the government," Ron Peri, a newly-appointed member of the CFTOB, said at a Feb. 27 meeting. "This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure." SM5q 3PHA yNFf p0TS Jb6f NYSO 8JvS Rimq oIvJ fcDp ddCX wwgx dXxm 2SqD UEAU evr3 934L ikQO lyYz 0kfs 8PAv rnAC cQ3l R6YF 9GBf AoW8 RVJM y5En zbVk cEhd uNZ1 iYRf CWpy 5rFk Dq5p BFk1 6srO NtgQ 2xRy l6Zp 5dJz 4GvT luYZ fEzJ