Skip to main content

Leicester will be final burial place of King Richard III, found under a parking lot

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 6:23 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
British scientists announced on February 4 that they were convinced "beyond reasonable doubt" that a skeleton found during an archaeological dig in Leicester, England, in August 2012 is that of King Richard III, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. British scientists announced on February 4 that they were convinced "beyond reasonable doubt" that a skeleton found during an archaeological dig in Leicester, England, in August 2012 is that of King Richard III, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
HIDE CAPTION
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
The remains of King Richard III
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Royal Courts of Justice rules that Richard III should be reburied in Leicester
  • The king's remains were discovered in summer 2012 under a parking lot
  • The archeologists who disinterred the remains intended a reburial in Leicester Cathedral
  • A legal challenge was brought by a group which said he should be reburied in York

London (CNN) -- It's been a long journey for Richard III, the 15th century king whose skeleton was found under a parking lot in the English city of Leicester. But on Friday, his final destination became clear.

The medieval monarch will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral, just a stone's throw away from where his remains were uncovered.

The discovery of his remains, complete with curved spine and staved-in skull, in the summer of 2012 sparked global headlines and a new battle -- over which city would host his remains in perpetuity.

Archaeologists had been searching the site for Leicester's long-lost Greyfriars Friaryhad and always planned for any bodies they uncovered to be reburied at the city's cathedral.

Cracking the genetic code of Richard III
Chang: Regime like Richard III with nukes
Richard III's last battle

That was challenged in the courts by a group calling itself the Plantagenet Alliance, which argued it was the medieval king's wish to be buried in the historic northern city of York -- the city they claim was closest to his heart.

But judges at the Royal Courts of Justice ruled Friday that his funeral should be held in Leicester as originally planned.

Their ruling notes that since Richard's exhumation, "passions have been roused and much ink has been spilt" as rival camps fought to stake their claim.

Now, they say, "We agree that it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest."

The University of Leicester, which was behind the excavation project, celebrated the outcome on Twitter.

"Richard III will be reinterred in Leicester. Great news for the University, our city and everybody involved in the discovery," it said.

'Horrific death'

In bringing its case, the Alliance objected to the lack of consultation over where the newly-rediscovered monarch's bones should be laid to rest, saying more thought should have been given to the question.

On its website, the Alliance -- made up of people who claim to be distantly related to Richard III, and headed by Stephen Nicolay, his 16th great nephew -- set out its argument to have him reburied in York.

"We believe that the proposed location of Leicester is wholly inappropriate for the burial of King Richard III, who had no connections with the town beyond his horrific death, bodily despoliation and appalling burial in a foreshortened grave," it said.

"As people who have died in a foreign place are 'brought home,' so too King Richard should be brought to a place with which he had every possible connection and affection."

Richard III lost his life in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 -- the last king of England to die on the battlefield and the last monarch from the House of York.

Until his remains were found, the monarch was best known to modern Britons as the hunchbacked Shakespearean villain accused of murdering his nephews, the "Princes in the Tower," to usurp the throne.

That notorious history may make the battle over his reburial site appear all the more unlikely. But both sides insisted they have a strong claim to his remains.

Now Leicester could see a significant commercial benefit, if tourists flock to see his final resting place.

The city already has plans for a new tomb in the cathedral, where a memorial stone has long paid tribute to the last Plantagenet king, and for a visitor center on the site of the Greyfriars car park, telling the story of Richard's life, his death, and his rediscovery.

In a statement, Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: "I am delighted that Leicester Cathedral can now proceed with its plans to give King Richard lll a dignified reburial here in the city.

"With the support of the city council and the University of Leicester, the cathedral is now planning for the king's reinterment to take place in the spring of next year."

Read more: Richard III had worms, scientists say

Read more: New coffin mystery at Richard III site

CNN's Bryony Jones contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 11:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT