Campaign for Richard III’s reburial in York heard by high court

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Plantagenet Alliance, a company formed by relatives of Richard’s family, argues that he should be reburied in his ancestral home, York.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Campaign for Richard III’s reburial in York heard by high court” was written by Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 13th March 2014 13.23 UTC

Descendants of the family of the last medieval king of England have taken their campaign for him to be reburied in York to the high court.

In the latest round of the legal dispute over Richard III’s final resting place, lawyers for the justice secretary, Leicester University and Leicester council have clashed with those representing the Plantagenet Alliance.

The monarch, whom Tudor historians nicknamed Crookback Dick, was killed on 22 August 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field by Henry VII’s soldiers. His body was interred in nearby Greyfriars church in Leicester.

His remains were subsequently lost for more than 500 years until exhumed by archaeologists from beneath a Leicester carpark in September 2012.

The Plantagenet Alliance, a company formed by relatives of Richard’s family, argues that he should be reburied in his ancestral home, York. The Yorkist king is not believed to have had any direct descendants.

Gerard Clarke, representing the alliance, told the high court on Thursday he was not seeking an order for the monarch’s reburial in York, merely adequate public consultation by the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, on the decision about where the remains should rest.

Apart from King Harold II, who died at the Battle of Hastings, Richard III was the only king since 1066 whose whereabouts had been unknown.

“We asked the War Graves Commission what would happen if they discovered the body of a someone who died on the first day of the 1916 Battle of the Somme,” Clarke told the court.

“No one who knew such a man would be alive now, but he may have had descendants. The War Graves Commission said they would ask them [what should happen to the soldier’s remains].”

Mr Justice Ouseley, one of the three judges hearing the case, suggested it was up to a succeeding monarch to decide what happened to the body of his predecessor. Such an executive order, he implied, had already resulted in the decision to leave the body in Leicester.

“We can take it that Henry VII was responsible for disposing of the remains,” Ouseley said. “So a decision was taken by the next monarch about where the body would lie. [Richard III] was discovered where [Henry VII] decided he should be buried.”

Clarke protested: “We are making assumptions about what happened to the body.”

Ouseley said: “Do you seriously suppose that Henry VII was not aware of what happened to the body of the man he had usurped?”

The hearing is expected to last two days.

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