A British High Court has decided that the remains of Richard III should be buried at Leicester Cathedral. Earlier today, a three-judge panel released its decision rejecting a claim put forward by some descendants of the 15th-century English king to have a wider public consultation over where his final resting place should be.
The judges explain, “Since Richard III’s exhumation on 5 September 2012, passions have been roused and much ink has been spilt. Issues relating to his life and death and place of reinterment have been exhaustively examined and debated. The Very Reverend David Monteith, the Dean of Leicester Cathedral, has explained the considerable efforts and expenditure invested by the cathedral in order to create a lasting burial place as befits an anointed King. We agree that it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest.”
A group known as the Plantagenet Alliance had gone to court asking for Britain’s Secretary of State for Justice to review his decision that if Richard III was discovered that he would be buried at the nearest Christian burial site, which was Leicester Cathedral. They had been hoping that the English king might be buried at York Minster.
The judges however disagreed that the king himself wanted to be laid at rest in the northern city: “In our view, the suggestion that Richard III was to have endowed a chancery at York with 100 chaplains falls short of any definitive or overriding expression of where he wished to be buried.”
Furthermore, they dismissed the notions that the Secretary of State for Justice was negligent in carry out his duties when he issued the permits for archaeological excavation of the Leicester car park where the remains of Richard III were discovered. The judges also noted that Queen Elizabeth II has made no comment on having Richard’s remains buried elsewhere, and that the Church of England supports the decision to have the burial take place at Leicester Cathedral.
In a response to the ruling, David Monteith, Dean of Leicester said:
The delays are over. The law is clear and unequivocally set forth in today’s judgement. Richard III fought here, fell here, died here, has lain here and was rediscovered here. He will now be finally led to rest with the prayers of God’s people in a manner fitting to his story and with dignity as befits a child of God and an anointed King of England.
I am absolutely delighted that the High Court has ruled that our exhumation licence is valid. We may now make arrangements for the transfer of Richard III’s remains from the University of Leicester to Leicester Cathedral where they may be reinterred with dignity and honour as befitting the last Plantagenet King of England.
From the outset of the project, I have always stressed the importance of maintaining the strong historical association of King Richard with Leicester and we followed best archaeological practice in recommending that his remains be transferred to the nearest place of interment: the cathedral of St Martin, less than a hundred metres away.
Ultimately a King of England by right of conquest – Henry VII – decided in August 1485 to hand over the vanquished King Richard’s remains to the Franciscan Friars in Leicester for burial. There they have lain for over half a millennium and have become part of Leicester’s history. Long may this association continue.
Meanwhile, Phil Stone, Chairman of the Richard III Society, said in a statement:
I am very pleased that there has been a clear cut decision. It means that we can now move forward and reinter King Richard with the dignity and sanctity that is due to an anointed king of England. Understandably, the judgement will be a disappointment to the Plantagenet Alliance and its supporters, and indeed to many of our own members, but I hope that we can now all put the disagreements behind us and join together to honour King Richard when he is laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral.