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Ruling on Richard III goes to Leicester

30 May 2014


King's burial: in Leicester Cathedral, speaking at a news conference, the Bishop, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, and the City Mayor, Peter Soulsby, after a judicial review paved the way for King Richard III to be buried there

King's burial: in Leicester Cathedral, speaking at a news conference, the Bishop, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, and the City Mayor, Peter Soulsby, after ...

AFTER more than a year of public squabbling over his final destination, a "dignified" reburial for Richard III in Leicester was approved by the High Court last Friday.

Three High Court judges rejected a legal challenge by distant relatives of the King, who had wanted his remains interred in York Minster, the centre of his medieval power-base.

The Plantagenet Alliance had argued that the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, had failed to consult properly when he granted permission to archaeologists to search for Richard's grave under a Leicester city-centre car park, and then for his reburial in Leicester Cathedral (News, 21 March).

But Lady Justice Hallett, sitting in the Divisional Court with Mr Justice Ouseley and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, ruled that there were no public-law grounds for interfering with the decision.

In their 40-page judgment, the three judges concluded that "the 'public' consultation regarded by the claimant is entirely open-ended, and not capable of sensible limit or specificity, in the context of potentially millions of collateral descendants of Richard III."

The judgment was welcomed by the Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith. "The law is clear, and unequivocally set forth in today's judgment," he said. "Richard III fought here, fell here, died here, has lain here, and was rediscovered here. He will now be finally laidto rest with the prayers of God's people, in a manner fitting to his story, and with dignity, as befits a child of God and an anointed King of England."

The leader of Leicestershire County Council, Nick Rushton, said: "It has been a very undignified time; as you must remember, this is the body of a man - and a king of England. He deserves to be buried with dignity and honour in Leicester Cathedral."

There was applause in Leicester Cathedral as the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, read out the result at 10 a.m. to a crowd of supporters and media. "We are, of course, delighted," he said. "Here in the cathedral, in the diocese, in the city, in the county, we've waited a long time for this."

In a statement, the Plantagenet Alliance said: "We obviously respect the judgment, but are disappointed for the thousands of peoplewho, like us, felt that they have not had the opportunity to have their legitimately held views heard and considered as to the appropriate venue for the interment of King Richard III."

Leicester Cathedral is planning a four-day programme of events around the interment next spring. The King's remains will be placed in a coffin and taken on a tour, before reaching the cathedral, where members of the public will have an opportunity to pay their respects.

"We will close the cathedral while the tomb is closed, and then, on about the fourth day, we open up it up again for a glorious celebration, which will include the entire city," Dean Monteith said.

An open-air pageant, music, and parades will also be held.

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