OPPOSING camps in the battle for Richard III's bones (News, 29
November 2013) must wait a little longer before a decision is
made to settle where he is buried.
Three High Court judges last week reserved their judgment on a
claim by descendants of the last Plantagenet king that proper
consultation was not carried out before the Ministry of Justice
granted a licence for Richard's burial in a tomb in Leicester
Cathedral. A decision is expected in six weeks.
King Richard was originally buried in the Greyfriars Friary, in
Leicester, soon after his defeat and death at the Battle of
Bosworth, 15 miles away, in 1485. The Plantagenet Alliance,
however, says that the Yorkist King's roots and power-base were in
the north, and wants his remains interred in York Minster.
For the present, the monarch's remains will stay in a secure
location controlled by archaeologists from Leicester University who
first unearthed them under a council car-park on the friary site
(News, 14 September
During the two-day hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in
London, James Eadie QC, for the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling,
said that there was no reason to treat the King's remains any
differently to any other remains that might be exhumed, and the
Secretary of State had "no duty" to consult people who were not
Anya Proops, for Leicester University, described the dispute as
a "very undignified squabble" that should now come to an end. "His
remains should be laid to rest in the majestic setting of Leicester
Cathedral," she said.
But Gerard Clarke, counsel for the Plantagenet Alliance, said
that the university's claim was little more than "finders keepers".
"It would be fanciful and absurd that, if the Queen died on a visit
to a primary school in Lowestoft, she should be buried there."
He rejected suggestions that the Alliance's application was "a
costly, silly argument about nothing", saying that it mattered
because of the importance of the history of the monarchy to the
The Alliance would be satisfied with a wide-ranging public
consultation on the King's final resting place, with views from the
Crown, and groups including English Heritage, relevant churches,
other public bodies, "and those who claim a family relationship
with the late King". He suggested that Leicester, York, and
Westminster could be among the choices.
Lord Justice Ouseley said: "Richard III would have raised an
eyebrow if he'd been told there would be public consultation on his
reburial, 500 years on. Kings of that era weren't democrats."