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YesCymru calls for North Wales’ castles to be handed over to Welsh people

Historic image showing Castle Gift Shop in the shadow of Caernarfon Castle (Pic: Cyngor Gwynedd Planning Application Heritage Statement)

YesCymru is calling for the ownership of castles in North Wales to be transferred to the Welsh people.

The pro-independence group has backed a petition by Arfon Jones to the Senedd, which has called for Welsh Government ministers to explore options for transferring the historic buildings from the Crown Estate, which currently owns them.  

The Crown Estate still owns the castles of Caernarfon, Beaumaris, Denbigh, Harlech, Conwy and Flint despite the Welsh conservation agency Cadw being responsible for their management and maintenance.  

Backing the petition is part of YesCymru’s campaign for control of the Crown Estate’s assets in Wales to be transferred from Westminster to the Senedd.

This follows a call from the legendary folk singer Dafydd Iwan for ownership of the castles to be transferred to Wales.

The Crown Estate is a corporation responsible for managing the monarchy’s substantial property interests.

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Its profits go to the UK Treasury, with a substantial portion going to the royal family through the Sovereign grant

Its portfolio, which includes Regent Street, one of the world’s best-known retail and tourist destinations, as well as part of St James’s in Mayfair, is worth a whopping £16bn.

The Crown Estate also owns vast swathes of Wales, including a staggering 65% of the Welsh foreshore and riverbed and more than 50,000 acres of land.

In recent years its income from assets in Wales has increased substantially because of the growth of offshore windfarms, which pay the Crown Estate to lease the sea bed.

The value of its holdings in Wales increased from £96m to over £853m between 2020 and 2023. 

YesCymru Chair Elfed Williams said: “Many people would have assumed that since Cadw manages these castles, the organisation also held ownership of them in trust for the Welsh people.

“But astonishingly this is not the case. They are currently still under the ownership of the Crown Estate, which is anachronistic, to say the least.

“We don’t live in feudal times anymore and the status of Wales’ castles should reflect that.

“That’s why YesCymru is supporting the petition to the Senedd by Arfon Jones. It calls on our national parliament to explore options for transferring ownership of historical assets from the Crown Estate to the Welsh Government.

“The status of the castles points to what’s wrong with the current system when it comes to ownership of Wales’ resources and assets.

“The profits from the Crown Estate’s assets in Wales aren’t going to where they should be. They should be invested in our communities and contribute towards running our public services

“Instead, its profits go to the UK Treasury in Westminster, with a substantial portion going to the royal family through the Sovereign grant, which just isn’t acceptable.

“Gaining control of these would help us put a strong and secure foundation in place for building the independent Wales we want to see.”

The petition says: “The castles at Caernarfon, Harlech and Denbigh as well as Tintern Abbey are owned by the Crown Estate.

“These buildings are iconic Welsh buildings closely associated with events in Welsh History especially Harlech Castle and Owain Glyndwr.

“These buildings are important to our national identity and national memory and Welsh Ministers should explore options for transferring the ownership of these buildings from the Crown Estate back to the people of Wales.

“FOI request to CADW shows that Caernarfon, Harlech and Denbigh Castles along with Tintern Abbey are owned by the Crown Estate.”

For more information about YesCymru please visit: www.yes.cymru

To sign the petition visit: https://petitions.senedd.wales/petitions/246053

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