Richard III dig: Royal remains being laid to rest at cathedral is natural, says Bishop of Leicester
The Bishop of Leicester has said the city's cathedral would be the "obvious and natural" place to inter remains thought to be those of King Richard III.
The Right Rev Tim Stevens has weighed into the debate about where the bones should be laid to rest if DNA tests prove they are those of the fallen monarch.
Media reports have suggested the royal remains should be buried in Westminster Abbey, in London, or in York, where some historians say Richard planned to be buried if he had not been killed at Bosworth Field in 1485.
However, Bishop Tim said: "Everyone in Leicester who has a particular view on this thinks the obvious and natural place is Leicester Cathedral.
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"The remains have remained just outside the cathedral's curtilage for 500 years.
"It would be right to inter them in the nearest consecrated ground and that is the cathedral.
"There has been a memorial to Richard III in Leicester Cathedral for a very long time."
The remains were under the city council's Greyfriars car park, which is used by the authority's social workers, opposite the cathedral during a University of Leicester archeological dig in August.
Bishop Tim said: "It is clear the local authority has the custodianship of the remains and I think it is fair to say they want them to remain in Leicester.
"We are not anticipating any alternative claims from York or from Westminster, but if they are made we will give them careful consideration.
"It is important we get it right, but I hope the decision will not be controversial."
The Bishop did say he thought the "Richard III effect" could be good for the cathedral and the city.
He said the finding of the remains was "a historic moment" and the burying of the remains at the cathedral "would almost certainly lead to more visitors who want to find out about Richard's story".
As reported in yesterday's Mercury, city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has stated he would fight for the remains to stay in the city, saying they would leave "over his dead body".
He has earmarked a number of buildings near the dig's location which could serve as a museum and visitor centre.
The mayor has said he is confident DNA testing will confirm Richard has been found and he hopes to take advantage of an anticipated tourist surge to boost the city's economy.
The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, a group of politicians and business leaders set up to encourage economic growth, has said the "Richard factor" could provide a massive boost to the area's tourism.
Partnership chairman Andrew Bacon said: "We've already seen thousands of people go on tours of the Greyfriars dig site."