Richard III to be laid to rest in Le­ices­ter

The Church of England - - News -

“IT IS TIME for Richard III to be given a dig­ni­fied burial and fi­nally laid to rest,” the High Court de­creed at the end of a judge­ment re­ject­ing the Plan­ta­genet Al­liance’s ap­peal against the burial of the re­mains of the for­mer king in Le­ices­ter Cathe­dral.

The Al­liance claimed that York was a more suit­able place to lay the king to rest be­cause he had spent his child­hood and most of his adult life in the North of Eng­land. The Al­liance also ar­gued that there should be wider con­sul­ta­tion in­volv­ing Richard’s de­scen­dents be­fore a de­ci­sion was made.

In their rul­ing the three High Court judges said there was ‘no duty to con­sult’ and ‘no pub­lic law grounds for the court to in­ter­fere’.

The Sec­re­tary of State for Jus­tice was the First De­fen­dant in the case, the Univer­sity of Le­ices­ter the Sec­ond De­fen­dant and the Dean and Chap­ter of Le­ices­ter Cathe­dral the First In­ter­ested Party.

The High Court Judge­ment runs to 40 pages and in­cludes a short ac­count of Richard III’s life. It points out that Le­ices­ter Cathe­dral was the near­est to the place that Henry VII had cho­sen for burial and where the body had al­ready lain for more than 500 years.

The Sec­re­tary of State, who was then Ken Clarke MP, had granted an ex­huma­tion li­cence on the un­der­stand­ing that the king would be re­buried in Le­ices­ter Cathe­dral.

It states that the Queen had been kept in­formed of ar­range­ments for burial at Le­ices­ter and did not ex­press a wish for ei­ther a Royal fu­neral for Richard or re­burial in West­min­ster Abbey. She was con­tent with re­burial in Le­ices­ter Cathe­dral.

Ac­cord­ing to the judge­ment, ‘ al­though York Min­ster may now be adopt­ing a more avowedly neu­tral stance, it is ap­par­ent that it still ac­cepts Le­ices­ter Cathe­dral is the ap­pro­pri­ate place for the burial of Richard III’.

As far as the court was con­cerned, the Church of Eng­land and the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury were con­tent with re­burial at Le­ices­ter.

Re­fer­ring to the fact that some de­scen­dents of Richard III had sup­ported the ap­pli­ca­tion by the Plan­ta­genet Al­liance, the court is blunt in dis­miss­ing their case. “There could be no close rel­a­tives,” the judges say. “In ad­di­tion to a hand­ful of named 16th, 17th and 18th gen­er­a­tion de­scen­dent sub­scribers to the Claimant, the po­ten­tial num­ber of de­scen­dents from Richard III might num­ber in the mil­lions.”

The Dio­cese of Le­ices­ter and Le­ices­ter Cathe­dral or­gan­ised a press con­fer­ence last Fri­day to co­in­cide with the High Court judge­ment.

The Dean of Le­ices­ter, the Very Rev David Mon­teith, said that the Cathe­dral com­mu­nity was ‘hum­bled’ to be en­trusted with the task of re­bury­ing the king ‘as the world watched’.

He said the past weeks of wait­ing have been ‘try­ing for all our staff and vol­un­teers and this en­tire process has been costly fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally’.

“The de­lays are over. The law is clear and un­equiv­o­cally set forth in to­day’s judge­ment,” he stated. “Richard III fought here, fell here, has lain here and was re­dis­cov­ered here. He will now be fi­nally laid to rest with the prayers of God’s people in a man­ner be­fit­ting to his story and with dig­nity as be­fits a child of God and an anointed King of Eng­land.”

It has been an­nounced that Chan­nel 4 will be the pre­ferred broad­caster for the fu­neral ser­vice. The High Court judge­ment brings to an end months of de­bate in which feel­ings have run high but in which most people not di­rectly in­volved have ex­pressed sup­port for Le­ices­ter as a suit­able place for burial.

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