Building royal palace could boost Welsh economy
Building or opening a Royal palace in Wales could be boost the country's economy by up to £3.6 million a year, a report has said.
The report published by the Welsh think tank Gorwel estimates that an official royal residence in the principality could attract between 55,680 and 266,927 visitors per year, but adds that such a move could be seen as "royal or even government extravagance at a time of austerity".
Professor Russell Deacon, a visiting professor at the University of Wales and director of Gorwel - who co-wrote the report, said he hoped it would start a "sensible conversation" - but added he recognised some people would be against the idea.
"All we are advocating is that it should be looked at," he said.
"The other UK countries have got them. Wales doesn't and there are significant benefits from direct employment and tourism."
Prof Deacon said the financial benefits had been calculated based on the money other UK palaces bring to their local economies.
Unlike in the other nations of the UK, there is no official royal residence in Wales - though Prince Charles does have a private residence in Llwynywermod, near the village of Myddfai, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire.
The report estimates that between £765,000 and £3,667,000 annually could be generated from additional tourist income, along with the creation of up to 100 jobs, depending on the size of the palace which could also bring potentially a further £510,000 to £2,445,000 of annual indirect expenditure in Wales.
In considering the question of possible locations for a new palace, the authors conclude that palaces are "best located" in a capital city near to a centre of government, meaning a Welsh palace could be located in Cardiff.
The writers then weigh up the pros and cons of using a new or an old building and suggest some old buildings, including City Hall in Cathays Park, which could be suitable for conversion - while pointing out that a new property could be "more interesting than a building that had been there for many years already".
Potential drawbacks to the scheme are also listed, including the "significant costs" which would be involved in renovating an existing building or building a completely new structure.
The report continues: "At the same time there could be substantial additional security costs and anti-terrorism measures that could act as a substantial drain on the public purse."
It concludes by saying that while the benefits of a new royal palace "appear to outweigh the drawbacks", there would need to be "further study prior to any new royal palace being seriously considered for Wales".
The idea has been criticised by on Twitter by a number of commentators, including a Plaid Cymru councillor who said any money would be better spent on tackling poverty.
Meanwhile Grenville Ham, the leader of Green Party Wales, told BBC Wales: "I don't think the royal family need another home, they've got plenty. If they want to build something in Wales, they should build social housing."