Tussle erupts over King Richard III’s bones

LONDON — He’s been deposed, reviled, buried and dug up, and now a new battle looms over England’s King Richard III.

A British High Court judge on Friday granted a group of Richard’s relatives permission to challenge plans to rebury the 15th-century monarch in the city of Leicester, where his remains were found last year.

Judge Charles Haddon-Cave said the Plantagenet Alliance could take action against the government and the University of Leicester, though he hoped the dispute could be settled out of court.

“In my view, it would be unseemly, undignified and unedifying to have a legal tussle over these royal remains,” the judge said, urging the opposing sides “to avoid embarking on the (legal) Wars of the Roses Part 2.”

Richard was deposed and killed in a battle near Leicester in 1485, and quickly buried without a coffin in a now-demolished church in the city, which is 100 miles north of London. A skeleton found under a Leicester parking lot last year was identified as the king through DNA tests, bone analysis and other scientific scrutiny.

The discovery thrilled history buffs — as well as Richard’s supporters, who hope to rehabilitate the image of a king whose villainous reputation was cemented by William Shakespeare’s “Richard III.”

But it sparked a scuffle over where the last British monarch to die in battle should be reburied.

The government gave Leicester Cathedral a license to rebury the king, but the relatives’ group wants him interred in York, claiming it was Richard’s wish.

Richard belonged to the House of York, one of two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty involved in a 15th-century battle for the crown known as the Wars of the Roses.

Haddon-Cave said in his ruling that it was inevitable there would be “intense, widespread and legitimate public interest and concern in many quarters as to the treatment and final resting place of Richard III’s remains.”

He said the case “involves the remarkable, and unprecedented, discovery of remains of a king of England of considerable historical significance, who died fighting a battle which brought to an end a civil war which divided this country. The obvious duty to consult widely arises from this singular fact alone.”

The judge said the Plantagenet Alliance could take its case to court, but hoped legal battle could be avoided by setting up an independent advisory panel to recommend the best burial site.

The alliance had no immediate comment on the ruling. The Ministry of Justice said in a statement that it would “vigorously contest” the legal challenge, if it goes to court.

The University of Leicester, whose scientists led the search for the king’s remains, said it was “entirely proper and fitting that the remains of Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, be buried in the magnificent holy setting of Leicester Cathedral, near where his remains had lain for centuries.”

It said some relatives of Richard had expressed support for a Leicester burial, including Michael Ibsen, the 17th great-grandnephew whose DNA was matched to the skeleton found under the parking lot.

Leicester is hoping for a tourism boost from its association with the king, and is building a $6.3 million visitor center near the spot where his remains were found.

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Big fire destroys building on Broadway in Everett

A person was rescued, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Luring attempt reported in Mountlake Terrace

The driver allegedly instructed a boy to get in the truck and help grab a scooter he was giving away.

A place to live: Clearing a barrier for former sex workers

A nonprofit’s house “will be a safe place” for former prostitutes and sex-trafficking victims.

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Most Read