Disney v DeSantis dispute hinges on clause referencing King Charles III | Ron DeSantis

A dispute between the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, and Disney over control of the company’s Florida theme park district hinges on a clause referencing King Charles III and his descendants.

The row began after DeSantis in March 2022 passed a “don’t say gay” law banning classroom teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. The law was highly controversial, with LGBTQ+ activists saying it was discriminatory. Joe Biden denounced it as “hateful”.

Under former chief executive Bob Chapek, Disney was initially hesitant to state public opposition to the bill, but did so after pressure. That prompted DeSantis and Florida Republicans to try to revoke privileges Disney has had for decades at its theme park, which employs 75,000 people.

However, a new governing board appointed by DeSantis on Wednesday reportedly said it will need to overturn last-minute agreements which would prevent it from taking control.

The document states that its provisions will stand 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”.

“Royal clauses” of this kind are used to avoid rules in some places against contracts which last in perpetuity. The British royal family was chosen for the clauses because information about the family tree was readily available, but also because of the “better healthcare available to, and longer life expectancy of, a royal family member compared to a non-royal”, according to the law firm Birketts.

In February, the Florida state house passed a bill to end the unusual status that allowed Disney World to govern itself. Under the status, Disney World had its own police and fire departments, planning powers and some other public functions.

The bill gave DeSantis the power to appoint the five members of the board that controls government services for the Reedy Creek district.

“We’re going to have to deal with it and correct it,” board member Brian Aungst said of the last-minute agreements on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. “It’s a subversion of the will of the voters and the legislature and the governor. It completely circumvents the authority of this board to govern.”

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In a statement, Disney said: “All agreements signed between Disney and the District were appropriate, and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s ‘Government in the Sunshine’ law.”

Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

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