Where are all the Asians in Leicester ?
Richard III burial: five centuries on, the last medieval king finally gains honour in death
Thousands gather in Leicester for reburial of Richard III, the last Plantaganet king, whose remains were discovered by archaeologists under a car park
Descendants place white roses on the coffin (AP)
Thousands lined the route of the procession (Getty)
On Sunday, his remains left the battlefield to applause before travelling back through the streets of Leicester on a gun carriage. Thousands lined the route of the procession, which passed the council car park where the king’s bones were discovered by a team of Leicester University archaeologists three years ago.
They threw Yorkist white roses in front of the carriage, which was followed by 200 children in school uniform, holding aloft home-made banners honouring the king. One onlooker even let out a passionate cry of “God save King Richard!” before a crown, similar to the one that tumbled from his head on his last day, was placed atop his coffin.
The event began, fittingly enough, on the university campus. The academics who uncovered and identified his remains each placed a single white rose on his coffin, carved from English oak by Michael Ibsen, a descendant of Richard’s sister whose DNA was used to identify the body.
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Richard Buckley, wearing the OBE awarded him for his role as the dig’s lead archaeologist, was chief mourner, formally charged with transferring the body from the university to the cathedral, where the Archbishop of Westminster preached a service last night.
Academics are not normally found at the centre of such pageantry. Yet, as the university’s vice-chancellor, Prof Paul Boyle, pointed out, it has now been the custodian of Richard’s body for longer than his two-year reign.
Dr Buckley admitted to feeling a “mixture of excitement and trepidation” at playing such a crucial role. Matthew Morris, the archaeologist who unearthed the skeleton on the first morning of the dig, said he felt “uncomfortable” in his dark suit. “But I couldn’t look shabby,” he said. “This is a very final end to a project, and unusually poignant. Normally you just finish your report, archive the findings and that’s it.”
Crowds, up to eight deep in places, lined the 30-mile route from the city to Bosworth and back.
One caravan bore a hand-painted sign declaring “RIIIP”, but the mood was not of mourning or of celebration but quiet commemoration. Most onlookers remained silent as the hearse passed.
The coffin is carried on a four-wheeled bier at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre (AFP/Getty)
At the battlefield, his coffin was led out by 14 historical re-enactors dressed as knights in armour beneath hooded black cloaks. In front of a crowd of 2,000, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, lit a beacon that will burn until Thursday in honour of that other Richard, also a Duke of Gloucester.
At the heart of the field, two flags usually fly above a memorial to the dead, bearing the standards of Richard and Henry Tudor, who defeated him in battle that day. On Sunday, only Richard’s standard was flown. There was no place for the Tudors here.
Ricardians — as the king’s modern-day followers style themselves — had travelled from across the world to attend the ceremony. The battle may have ended five centuries ago, but they continue to fight for the reputation of a king portrayed by Shakespeare as a “monster” with a withered arm and who is thought to have killed his nephews, the Princes in the Tower.
Kelly Fitzgerald, a 52-year-old civil servant, travelled from Texas to pay tribute to Richard as well as her ancestor, Lord Greystoke, who also fought at Bosworth. “In 1485, the people who really wanted to mourn for Richard were not allowed to,” she said. “I’m glad to see wrongs being righted.”
Shayne Parkes, a 54-year-old New Zealander, and her husband, Robin Fenwick, included the event in their honeymoon. “We met at a funeral, so it is kind of fitting,” she said. “He seems an underdog and I feel sorry for him.”
Phil Stone, chairman of the Richard III Society, which has sought to rehabilitate the monarch, said he should be remembered as “the good king”. He said: “Far from calling for a horse, he fought on to the very end.”
Philippa Langley, who led the quest to find the remains of King Richard III (Getty)
A similar doggedness marked out Philippa Langley, the mother-of-two from Edinburgh who has been studying the king for 23 years and who first persuaded the university to stage the dig.
Dressed in a dark blue hat and coat, she, too, placed a rose on the coffin before bowing her head.
“This was about seeing Richard as a real historical figure, not as a caricature,” she said. “We gave him as much of the 15th century as we could.”
In his defence: legacy of Richard III revisited as Queen pays tribute to maligned king
The reputation of Richard III was finally restored as the much-maligned monarch was given a tribute fit for a king – and a seal of approval from the Queen, writes Sarah Knapton.
A 21 gun salute is fired near the coffin (Getty)
The king’s remains will lie in repose in Leicester Cathedral until a reinterment service on Thursday. Although the Queen will not attend the service, Buckingham Palace said she has written a tribute in the order of service which acknowledged Richard’s importance to British history.
In a service last night at Leicester Cathedral, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said Richard had been a progressive monarch, championing the rights of the people.
“In his two years as King, he reshaped vital aspects of the legal system, developing presumption of innocence and the practice of granting bail,” said the Archbishop.
The revisionist version of Richard III is in sharp contrast to the figure described by William Shakespeare as a “poisonous bunch-back’d toad” who murdered the Princes in the Tower.
Dr Phil Stone, chairman of the Richard III society, disagreed.
“He was a man of integrity who cared for his subjects,” he said.
NWN: The BBC tried to ram a multi-culti slant yesterday in their coverage of the journey of King Richard into Leicester. They used non-white reporters and surprisingly found a group of Sikhs to spout the multi culti nonsense of the elitist BBC. But the growing crowds are overwhelmingly white British.