More than 35,000 people lined the streets of Leicester and Leicestershire yesterday to mark the final journey of King Richard III.
Richard III’s mortal remains were transported in a cortege procession on a 22-mile journey through the county and city before arriving at Leicester Cathedral – in stark contrast to his undignified end at Bosworth 530 years ago.
The events of a momentous day started with a dawn vigil at around 5am at Fenn Lane Farm – alongside the field where archaeologists believe Richard lost his life in battle – and ended 13 hours later when Richard III’s coffin was officially received at the Cathedral gates for an evening service.
Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton said, “I felt enormous pride to join thousands of people from across Leicestershire in marking this historic occasion and giving the King a dignified return to the battlefield.”
Leicester City’s Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, added, “Today has been an incredible day for the people of Leicester and Leicestershire who have organised a series of historic events witnessed by people around the world. It ensured a former King of England was brought to his final resting place with the dignity and honour promised.”
The late-morning focus had been at the University of Leicester when a short public ceremony was held to mark the departure of Richard III’s mortal remains, just over two years since archaeologists from the university led an excavation of the medieval Greyfriars site.
A spokesman for the University of Leicester commented, “There has been phenomenal worldwide interest in Richard III since our archaeologists made their astonishing discovery. We are honoured to pass his mortal remains to the care of the cathedral for reinterment on Thursday.”
The cortege’s journey through parts of Leicestershire started from Fenn Lane Farm before crowds thronged the tiny streets of Dadlington – many of the soldiers from the 1485 battle are buried there – and Sutton Cheney, where it is believed Richard’s followers camped on the eve of the battle.
At the county council’s Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, there was a service to honour the memory of Richard III and to others who died with him, which included the lighting of the Battlefield Flame by HRH, the Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO.
More than 5,000 people were expected at Market Bosworth for the cortege’s arrival in the town, with prayers said in the Market Place, before the procession continued through Newbold Verdon and Desford.
It was over Leicester’s Bow Bridge that Richard III rode out to battle and there was a short ceremony to mark his return to the same spot, before a city awash with colour welcomed the coffin on a horse-drawn hearse.
The hearse then made its way to the cathedral for an evening service of Compline as the remains of Richard III were received by the cathedral. The public will be able to view the coffin Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the reinterment service on Thursday morning.
For more details about the reinterment, as well as events in the city and county during the next few days, visit www.kingrichardinleicester.com
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) March 22, 2015
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— Will Johnston (@WHLJohnston) March 22, 2015
— RichardIII Leicester (@RichardIIILeics) March 22, 2015