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 Monday, February 4, that they are convinced "beyond reasonable doubt" that a skeleton found during an archaeological dig in Leicester, central England, in August 2012 is that of the former king, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. British scientists announced Monday, February 4, that they are convinced "beyond reasonable doubt" that a skeleton found during an archaeological dig in Leicester, central England, in August 2012 is that of the former king, 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
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
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 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 6:31 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park, said to be a pet project of secretive young leader Kim Jong Un.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex in France, agents caught up with Ibrahim Boudina, a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back Syrian-schooled terror to Europe.
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT