The remains of Richard III will be buried with honour beneath a raised tomb within a specially created area in Leicester Cathedral. The announcement has pleased many observers, although some are hopeful that English king will received a state funeral.
Leicester Cathedral is planning to spend around £1 million on the reinterment, which includes alterations to the building, preparations for the event and the ceremony itself.
Plans for King Richard’s final resting place will see a series of changes to the inside of the Cathedral to create a significant space for the raised tomb, with a new floor, special lighting and new stained glass windows.
The Dean of Leicester, The Very Revd David Monteith, said the plans were influenced by feedback from a variety of sources, including members of the public who had been visiting the Cathedral and commenting in the media. He explained, “We are committed to reinter King Richard with honour and we have listened carefully to the different views that were expressed. We want to create a really wonderful space in the Cathedral for him and the many thousands of people we know will want to come to visit and pay their respects.
The Bishop of Leicester, The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, added “This is an immensely complex project and we are determined to get it right. Inevitably that means considerable expense but we are confident that with the support of the Church and the public, we can honour Richard and his story.”
Philippa Langley, a member of the Richard III Society and one of the leading figures in the discovery of his remains, said, “I am thrilled that the last warrior King of England is to be honoured with a tomb and that Yorkshire stone is being investigated as the material for it. We had always hoped that any design would convey what was important to Richard in his life but also his move into the light of a new future for his much-maligned reputation. The white rose, I believe, conveys this aspect beautifully and the designers, Cathedral and staff are to be congratulated on all their hard work. My personal hope is that after all deliberations have taken place, we may see a heraldic cross on the tomb for Richard who founded the College of Arms.”
The Richard III Foundation has also welcomed the news that the remains of King Richard will be buried in a specially-designed raised tomb. But it has warned against what it sees as ‘unseemly haste’ and ‘lack of respect’ in the arrangements for the monarch’s reinterment, and has called for Richard to be given a formal State Funeral, as befits an English king.
The Foundation is also asking for Richard’s body to be transported to York so it can lie-in-state prior to burial, allowing the people of Yorkshire can pay homage to the king whose memory they still revere more than five centuries after his death.
JoeAnn Ricca, founder-director of The Richard III Foundation, Inc., said, “We Ricardians are extremely concerned that the arrangements for the reinterment of our King are being made in something of a rush, and that we may see the remains of Richard Plantagenet being laid to rest in unseemly haste simply in order to provide Leicester with a tourist attraction. This should not be about tourism or economics or politics. It should be about ‘doing the right thing’. We are therefore calling for King Richard to be given full ceremonial honours in a national State Funeral, and this will require considerable planning. It is not something to be done in a rush.”
Andy Smith, the Foundation’s UK director, added: “The reinterment of our King after more than 500 years should be seen as an opportunity to honour his immortal memory. We should be showing the utmost respect for this brave medieval warrior king – a king who, let us not forget, died heroically in battle. Richard deserves more respect than he has been shown in Leicester so far.
“The authorities there were in a hurry to claim the King’s remains for themselves, and since the Government decided a few months ago that the body should be given a permanent home in Leicester, there seems to have been a great reluctance to give Richard anything more than a slab in the cathedral floor to mark his resting place. Thankfully the cathedral authorities have now given way on this point and accepted that the King should have a medieval-style raised tomb. We hope that they will also agree to our proposal that prior to the reinterment Richard’s body should ‘lie in state’ for a suitable period of time at York Minster, which is in fact where Richard had intended to be buried and where he planned to construct a chapel for this very purpose. Richard is still beloved in Yorkshire so it would be a case of his ‘coming home’ to York.”
Final details are still to be decided, including the design of the tomb, A group of architects representing the Cathedral and a working party that includes representatives from the Richard III Society, the University of Leicester and the City Council, will determine the final design.
Leicester City Council is planning a series of events during the week of the reinterment, which is expected to occur in May 2014. City Mayor Peter Soulsby explains, “Leicester was the backdrop to King Richard’s final days and became the location of his grave, so we are now proud and honoured that the Cathedral in the heart of the old town will be the place for his final reinterment.
“This amazing chapter in the story of Richard III’s life, death and rediscovery has been a partnership between the city council, the cathedral and the University of Leicester. The reinterment itself will be another historic moment which we want to share with the nation, which we hope will join us in celebrating this unique occasion.”