Portrait of Richard III next to his corpse verified by DNA testing
For anyone familiar with English history, this is a pretty big deal. The often maligned Richard III is being reburied, and this time with honors. Richard III's body was found in 2012 when a parking lot in Leicester was being dug up. Apparently, this is where his body was unceremoniously dumped and covered up after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The great point of interest is that the Queen, Elizabeth II, has asked the Countess of Wessex to represent her at the burial and to deliver a eulogy. According to sources inside the court, the eulogy is "surprising and sweet" and calls on the Britain as a whole to recognize the importance that Richard III played in its history. The Duke of Gloucester will also be in attendance, filling out the royal contingent.
The burial ceremony
But why should we care about Richard III? Richard III was one of many English kings during the War of the Roses, which ranged from 1455 through 1487. Richard the III garnered notoriety when he became king after the death of his nephew, Edward V, and his little brother who died in the Tower of London. The circumstances of their deaths is still unknown to this day, but folklore claims Richard III (at the time Richard the Duke of York) and regent until his nephew came of age, killed the two princes seizing the throne. Richard III was later killed in 1485 by Henry Tudor who cut the crown from Richards helmet and rode to London to be crowned King Henry VII. Histories about the time are confused and often very similar to other source material, but a good primary source would be Sir Thomas More's "History of King Richard the Third". If you've read William Shakespeare's play "Richard III" you might find similarities as it is believed that the bard leaned heavily on More's history. Shakespeare went out of his way to make Richard III the ultimate villain of English history, but almost a villain you could root for. Frank Underwood of House of Cards. Suffice it to say anything concerning Richard III is fraught with controversy, yet there are whole societies devoted to disproving some of the history surrounding this dead monarch.
What is also of interest, is that the current monarch of England and her family claim the throne through the Tudor line of succession. It could be argued that the early Tudor monarchs (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Mary I, & Elizabeth I) may have gone out of their way to damage Richard III's memory as a way of cementing their claim to the throne, as it was very tenuous and under threat through out their reigns. While this reversal of royal opinion is surprising, some might feel that it is lack luster. Philipa Langley, head of the Richard III Society, claims that she is not surprised to see any more senior royals in attendance as the current royal family still claims that Richard III was a usurper of the throne on their official website. Langley claims that there is copious evidence that Richard III removed Edward V and his little brother to the continent (Europe) for their own safety and protection. Furthermore, Richard's closest aids, Sir James Tyrell and Sir Edward Brampton, supposedly took a large quantity of money to Portugal suggesting that the two young princes were moved there. She also posits the idea that anyone could have killed the princes, and if they were killed, Henry Tudor and the Duke of Buckingham had just as much to gain from the death of those young princes as Richard. However, Langley is glad to see that the Duke of Gloucester attended as the Duke is a patron of the society. Controversy aside, the internment of the body of Richard III is the first royal funeral since the death of Elizabeth II's father, George VI. So let us give pause for the remembrance of a controversial leader in a chaotic era. Farewell Richard III, may your bones rest easy in honor and peace.