On the 4th February 2013, crowds gathered at Leicester University for the verdict on whether the skeleton they had found in the car park, was actually King Richard III.
The scientists had traced the maternal line from Richard’s elder sister Anne of York through the generations to find the few remaining matrilineal relatives. The only DNA that passes through the generations unaltered is in the female line. Joy Ibsen from Canada was found, but she had only one child, a son, so he is the end of that line. Unfortunately she had died in 2008 so her son Michael was DNA tested.
This test proved that his maternal DNA matched that from the direct female Platagenet line from Anne of York/Cecily Neville, etc. It also matched with the female (mother’s) DNA from the skeleton, which confirmed that Cecily Neville was also the mother of that person. By process of elimination (knowing where the rest of her sons were buried) this was then confirmed to be the skeleton of King Richard III.
An argument over where to bury him then ensued.
When the archaeological dig began, Leicester University had agreed to bury any remains that were found in the city that they were found, with reasonable dignity. Now that the body had been identified, as a King, there was a question as to whether Leicester was a suitable place to bury a King.
Westminster was suggested by some but quickly dropped as Royal permission would be required and it was anticipated that the Queen would not grant that. It was thought to be because the nearness to the urn supposedly holding the ‘Princes’ remains would make it unsuitable !!
York made a bid to bury their Yorkist King in York Minster, where they said he would have wanted to be buried, citing some plans that had been found for a chantry chapel that he had planned to build but had not had time to begin. A number of non-direct Plantagenet relatives supported this burial place and the argument went all the way to the Supreme Court.
In the end, it was decided that Leicester had the right to bury the King, in the place that he was orginally buried, as close as possible to his original grave site.
The Cathedral in Leicester, though quite small, stands only a few yards form the Greyfriars monastery site where the body was found, so plans were made to re-inter him there.
His coffin was transferred from the University to the Cathedral via some important places such as Bosworth field (though it is rumoured that the battle site was in a slightly different place than the visitor centre claims), and it stood in state in the Cathedral for three days.
Thousands of people came from around the world to pay their respects to the coffin as it stood there, myself included (you don’t get to pay your respects to a 500 years old dead King every day!).
On 25th March 2015, the coffin was then given a Christian burial in a specially built vault in the Cathedral.
I think it was a slight that the Queen, or at least one of her heirs, did not attend a funeral of a former English King, instead sending only the Countess of Wessex as her representative. Maybe she was channelling her alleged Tudor roots as Henry VIII refused to attend funerals during his lifetime……….