I have a passion for British political history, especially 14th to 18th century. For me, the life and times of the monarchy is more intriguing and engaging that any fiction you could read.
So when it was confirmed that the skeleton found under a car park in Leicester was indeed that of Richard III, I was captivated. I revelled in reading about the investigative process which led to the identification of one of England’s most notorious kings. I thought it fitting that, as custom dictates, his remains would be reinterred in consecrated ground – Leicester Cathedral, apparently.
Then, on a report on Radio 4 news yesterday evening, I heard that The City of York is making a claim to King Richard’s remains saying that, as the son of the Duke of York, he should be interred at York Minster, “a place where he worshipped, knew and loved”.
The debate is already heating up – take a look at this article, Hands off Richard III, on thisisleicestershire.co.uk.
I’m a Yorkshireman, based out of our agency in the Midlands, so I’m in a bit of conflict about this. But it also got us thinking about the ulterior motives of Leicester and York in their respective claims.
Let’s talk money. In an age of austerity, having the tomb of Richard III interred in grandeur will be a big tourist pull, especially with an amplification of overseas visitors.Yorkis a big international tourist destination with a minster that charges a fee for access. Leicester isn’t a tourist hotspot, but no doubt a fee would follow for any visit to King Richard’s Tomb and they really could do with the income and the profile.
As a marketing and communications agency, we thought it would be fun to run a few rule of thumb numbers* on potential uplift in revenues from hosting the remains of the King:
- Increased visitor numbers and impact on spend and benefit to businesses in The City of York estimated at £30 million per year, like-for-like (excluding specific resting place visitor fees and merchandising.)
- Increase in revenue to York Minster estimated at:
- Visitor fees: £2 million per annum
- Merchandising: £3 million per annum
- If there is a televised state funeral (hey it could happen) – add another £5 million, at least.
Cost of commissioning and creating a suitable tomb / shrine easily between £1 and £2 million.
As for Leicester, because it doesn’t have the established tourist industry of York, there wouldn’t be such a significant benefit yet. However, estimated combined increased revenues into the city could be £5 million per year and who’s to say it wouldn’t put Leicester on the tourist map.
So there you go, King Richard III still courting political and financial controversy more than 500 years on. You’ve got to admire the guy’s personal PR capability!
*all numbers are an educated guess based on tourism figures from various sources.