Richard III to be laid to rest in Leicester
“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.