As a nation, we are rightly proud of our monarchy and also proud of our great history of monarchy. When a monarch dies, every care is taken that their interment is treated with the greatest national honour and respect, and national interest is focused on the event.
We are also proud of our rich history and try to do it justice by the way it is seen throughout the United Kingdom and the rest of the world, who appreciate how properly and seriously we regard being the custodians of the treasures of our history, handed down to us.
We are aware that the decision to reinter the mortal remains of King Richard III – Lord of the North – in Leicester Cathedral has left many questioning the fact that the issue has not been taken up as a matter of national import and involvement, rather it being entirely handled by local civic authorities and private interest groups.
In the matter of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England, his living (collateral) descendants and the nation as a whole have not been consulted as to the suitability of Leicester Cathedral as a repository for his remains.
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.
As a nation, we do not insist on people who die in a particular location being buried there; for our own loved ones, we bring them to a place which is appropriate to them, to a place with which they had some meaningful connection or affection. Upon finding lost remains of missing persons we do not insist that they are buried locally to where they were originally laid in the ground but we ensure that they are returned to their nearest relatives; we repatriate the bodies of soldiers from where they fell – how much more so should a King’s remains be brought away from the place where he fought his last battle charge and from where he was buried carelessly by his enemy?
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. In his letters to York Council Richard spoke of travelling to York as a “home coming” and it is quite evident from his letters, and other contemporary documentation concerning his life, that he spent most of his time in the north of England and focused particularly on York as a place of affection. He gave grants to rebuild its walls, he visited for two weeks on Royal Progress, investing his son as Prince of Wales in the Archbishop’s Palace and he intended a College of unequalled size in York, of 100 priests to pray for his soul and that of his family.
There are many expert historians of his life and times who agree that King Richard III may well have been intending York Minster to be his mausoleum. It is fitting and respectful and in keeping with all of our national customs regarding treatment of the dead, to bury this king in a place “appropriate to him” – that place is York.
©2013. Kim Harding. All Rights Reserved.
Historian David Johnson PhD applies his knowledge and expertise to this fundamental question.