How Harry and Meghan’s child became part of the Disney-DeSantis feud.

The governor of Florida Ron DeSantis is a prime example, if you needed one, that having elite educational credentials (he attended Yale as an undergraduate and then Harvard Law School) does not mean that you are smart. I wrote before that I thought his decision to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 (while he has not yet made a formal announcement, he has done pretty much everything that a prospective candidate does) was not a good idea, that he would suffer because of it, and that he would have been in a far better position in 2028.

Further evidence that his political skills are sub-par comes from the fight he picked with the Disney corporation, escalating it to such ridiculous levels that it risks backfiring on him. DeSantis seems to think that running on an ‘anti-woke’ platform will be his key to success in outflanking Trump on the culture war grievance issues. He has bragged that ‘Florida is where woke goes to die’. The word ‘woke’ is conveniently undefined, meaning that one can claim to be anti-woke by seizing on any aspect of the culture wars and opposing any moves that seek to make society more egalitarian by promoting acceptance of marginalized groups. In particular, ‘anti-woke’ rhetoric has been used to attack equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community.

In Florida, he has championed so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis added more wins to his agenda targeting the LGBTQ+ community as a state board approved an expansion of what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law Wednesday, and the House passed bills on gender-transition treatments, bathroom use and keeping children out of drag shows.

The Board of Education approved a ban on classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades, expanding the law that bans those lesson up to grade 3 at the request of DeSantis as he gears up for an expected presidential run.

The rule change would ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from grades 4-12, unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take. That’s the time when students are becoming aware of their sexuality.

Such laws have been widely criticized by those who see them as bigoted. But when the Disney corporation spoke out against it, DeSantis must have thought that it gave him a chance to promote his populist credentials as well, by allowing him to publicly start a feud with a mega-corporation.

To understand what is happening, you need to know that long ago, the state of Florida passed legislation granting Disney autonomy over a large portion of land known as Reedy Creek that they transformed into the behemoth that is known as Disney World.

The special tax district, created in 1967, granted Walt Disney World Resort the same authority and responsibilities as a county government, allowing the company to carry out its own municipal functions.

Disney was allowed to run that area as they wished, as if they were the local government. This was an extreme example of the kinds of sweetheart deals that state governments sometimes make with private entities to entice them to invest in their state, even at the expense of their citizens. But the time to fight it was then.

In retaliation for Disney speaking against the Don’t Say Gay laws, DeSantis had his pliant state legislature strip the Reedy Creek district of its Disney-appointed board and replaced them with his hand-picked conservative allies. But while they were doing that, Disney had the soon-to-be expelled board members strip the incoming board of most of its powers, something that the latter discovered only after they took office.

The agreement gave Disney control over most of the future construction in the special tax district established for the theme park, AP reported.

  • The agreement prevents the DeSantis board from using Disney’s name, symbols associated with it and the theme park, and the likeness of Disney characters without the company’s permission, per AP. It also gives the company the ability to sue for damages for violations.
  • The agreement is in effect until perpetuity — or until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of England’s King Charles III.

What they’re saying: In a statement at the time, Disney said all agreements made between the company and the Reedy Creek Improvement District took place in public and were legal under Florida law.

In retaliation, DeSantis is now saying that he might use the surrounding area to build other things near Disney World, such as a prison. Disney, seemingly unfazed, has further thumbed its nose at DeSantis, saying that they are going to host a ‘Pride Nite’ event at Disneyland. True, it is not at Disney World, but it is a deliberate slap.

This escalation has become so ridiculous that even Republicans are criticizing DeSantis for going too far.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is considering running for president as an anti-Trump candidate, blasted DeSantis for defying conservative principles by interfering in “the business of business.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence also criticized DeSantis for taking his Disney feud too far in February, even as he voiced approval for the original education bill.

Disney World is a huge tourist attraction, bringing in a large amount of revenue. It is the largest employer in Central Florida. “Orlando’s tourism industry generated $75.2 billion in annual economic impact, 463,000 jobs and $5.8 billion in additional state tax revenue.” It is also popular with the public. Trump, of course, has seized on this fiasco to attack DeSantis, as have other potential rival candidates.

Former President Donald Trump also criticized DeSantis’ feud with Disney on Tuesday, writing in a Truth Social post that DeSantis is being “absolutely destroyed by Disney.”

“Disney’s next move will be the announcement that no more money will be invested in Florida because of the Governor — In fact, they could even announce a slow withdrawal or sale of certain properties, or the whole thing. Watch! That would be a killer. In the meantime, this is all so unnecessary, a political STUNT! Ron should work on the squatter MESS!” Trump said.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who has strongly hinted at a 2024 bid, said DeSantis’ feud with Disney is becoming a tit-for-tat because it’s not going as he had planned.

“Look, this has gone from kind of going after a headline to something that has devolved into an issue, and it convolutes the entire Republican message,” Sununu said on CNN Monday night. “I just don’t think — it’s not good for Governor DeSantis. I don’t think it’s good for the Republican party.”

The Nikki Haley-aligned super PAC SFA Fund, Inc. said in a statement that after the Florida governor’s latest bid to “one-up Mickey Mouse after a devastating and embarrassing blow to his efforts to rein in Disney World, Ron DeSantis has proposed some new neighbors to the amusement park – criminals.”

So how does Harry and Meghan’s child come into it? It is because of something known as the ‘Rule Against Perpetuities’

The rule against perpetuities is a legal rule in the common law that prevents people from using legal instruments (usually a deed or a will) to exert control over the ownership of private property for a time long beyond the lives of people living at the time the instrument was written. Specifically, the rule forbids a person from creating future interests (traditionally contingent remainders and executory interests) in property that would vest beyond 21 years after the lifetimes of those living at the time of creation of the interest, often expressed as a “life in being plus twenty-one years”. In essence, the rule prevents a person from putting qualifications and criteria in a deed or a will that would continue to affect the ownership of property long after he or she has died, a concept often referred to as control by the “dead hand” or “mortmain“.

So Harry and Meghan’s child effectively becomes the benchmark for when the deal expires because, at 21 months of age, she is the youngest of King Charles’s current descendants and is thus likely to be the last survivor, effectively making the deal valid for another 100 years or so. As Michael Hiltzik writes:

Using the British royal family as a touchstone for the term of a trust became a tradition in the 19th century, when the typical life span ran to the 30s or 40s except for royals, who were presumed to receive healthcare that kept them alive longer. Also, royal families were the only ones that kept accurate and detailed genealogical records, so tracing descendants was relatively easy.

All this has reduced the DeSantis camp to fulminating powerlessly. The governor’s office called Disney’s move a “last-ditch” effort that may have “significant legal infirmities” that would render it “void as a matter of law.” Disney says all T’s were crossed and I’s dotted in accordance with the law.

Who’s got the upper hand? A multinational corporation intent on protecting franchises that bring it more than $80 billion a year has thus far made its adversary look like a blustering nincompoop.

DeSantis 0, Disney everything else.

Saturday Night Live invited the villain from Aladdin to comment on the Disney-DeSantis fight

DeSantis is discovering that while it may be easy to wage war on marginalized groups, taking on a major corporation with platoons of lawyers is something else altogether.

DeSantis boasts that Florida is where woke goes to die. It may be that woke ends up killing him.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    at 21 months of age, she is the youngest of King Charles’s current descendants and is thus likely to be the last survivor

    The odds that she, future possible siblings, and the three kids of Will and Kate won’t have offspring are pretty low.

  2. Dunc says

    Using the British royal family as a touchstone for the term of a trust became a tradition in the 19th century, when the typical life span ran to the 30s or 40s except for royals

    I really wish this rubbish would die an early death… Yes, in the mid-19th century, average life expectancy at birth was only around 40 years. However, if you survived your first year, that went up to nearly 50. Survive to adulthood and it goes up to 60. The averages are massively skewed by early mortality. To say that a “typical life span ran to the 30s or 40s” implies that most people died in their 30s or 40s, which was absolutely not the case. (Good stats on the subject here.)

    Heck, even the friggin’ Bible says the typical life span is 3 score years and ten.

  3. Mano Singham says

    Rob @#1,

    The rule specifies only those who are living at the time of its implementation. It excludes yet-to-be-born descendants.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    If little Lilibet ends up going to school in the US, her life expectancy depends on whether a real, patriotic, red-blooded, rootin’ tootin’, two-fisted American decides to exercise his Second Amendment® AR-15 rights there. Just sayin’…

  5. Erk1/2 says

    Yes Pierce, but Harry has a 3 year old son, and William has young children who are included in the conditions as well. It’s good odds that one of them will live into their 90s. Disney really just has to hold out until the next time a pliable governor is elected.

  6. Tethys says

    IANAL, but this wording-

    until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of England’s King Charles III.

    Could also be interpreted to include any future descendants of Lilibet or any of her numerous cousins.

    If the sea rise projections due to global warming are accurate, most of Florida is going to be underwater in 100 years, so I imagine it will be a moot point.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    even Republicans are criticizing DeSantis for going too far.

    And this, ladles and jellyspoons, is the best candidate the Republicans have, the only one who can, realistically, prevent The Defendant from being on the ballot.

    Oh yeah?

  8. xohjoh2n says


    If the sea rise projections due to global warming are accurate, most of Florida is going to be underwater in 100 years, so I imagine it will be a moot point.

    No, Disney’s lawyers will sue it back down.

  9. Mano Singham says

    Tethys @#7,

    While the AP report does say that, it is incomplete. The rule applies only to those who are living at the time the rule was implemented, as the Wikipedia article says. So the future descendants of the family do not count. If they did count, then pretty much all such limits would be meaningless, since only about 20% of lineages die out.

  10. lanir says

    The most amusing part of DeSantis being outmaneuvered is they had to do it in public. Like one of those newspaper posts in the classifieds that lets everyone know about some legal thing or other. This was one of those. Like most people who think they’ve come up with a clever idea, DeSantis and his people were entirely focused on what they were doing. The idea that Disney might react to it doesn’t appear to have even occurred to them.

  11. machintelligence says

    According to my perhaps less than accurate calculations, if someone had used that formula for the descendants of Queen Victoria to establish a trust or whatever in the 1800’s, it would have expired in1961.

  12. KG says

    According to the Guardian, the agreement says it will endure 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”.

    So it’s clear enough it only includes those descendants alive at the time the agreement was made (of course, we don’t know whether any of Charles, or his known sons William and Harry, have any unacknowledged offspring, which could complicate matters), but the validity of the thing could turn on the case of the “k” in the phrase “king of England”. Elsewhere, I’ve seen it rendered in upper-case, as “King of England”, but that would make it clear the phrase is a compound proper noun, so the person it refers to must have the title “King of England”. But Charles Windsor doesn’t, and nor does anyone else. The last person to bear that title was William III, who died in 1702. By the Act of Union of 1707 the Kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged into the Kingdom of Great Britain, and hence no longer exist. If the Grauniad is correct, and the lower-case “k” is used, Disney’s lawyers could claim that Charles is “king of England”, just as he’s “king of Nether Wallop”, “king of 10 Downing Street” or of any other part of his extensive realms and territories, the phrase being merely a description intended to differentiate him from any other “King Charles III” who might be around, and not a title. But if I was De Sadist’s lawyers, I’d still try to argue that there is no such person as “King Charles III, king of England”.

    One more possibly amusing wrinkle. According to the Jacobites, Charles Edward Stuart, known as “The Young Pretender” or “Bonnie Prince Charlie” was the rightful King of England (inheriting from James II via his son the “Old Pretender” or according to the Jacobites “James III”), and if so, would presumably have been “King Charles III, King of England”, as the Act of Union was passed by English and Scottish parliaments that were full of traitors to the rightful monarch, and so would be considered invalid by Jacobites. Charles Edward Stuart had no legitimate children, but did have an illegitimate daughter, who apparently still has descendants. So in extremis, Disney’s lawyers could fall back on declaring themselves Jacobites, at the risk of offending Charles Windsor and his supporters!

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