The question on Richard III’s final resting place seems to have been resolved after York withdrew its candidacy, leaving Leicester as the only serious contender for the honour.
Although Leicester had always been the frontrunner, support for York has been steadily growing. Over 11,000 people had signed a petition to bring King Richard’s remains to York. After all, Richard III was a representative of the House of York (the branch of the House of Plantagenet) and he was extremely popular there. When news of his death reached York, the city elders recorded how the King who had “mercifully” reigned over them was “piteously slain and murdered to the great heaviness of the city”.
Many also objected to Leicester’s candidacy on the basis that it was never a “resting” place for Richard. Although he was buried there for over 500 years, it was the site where he was humiliated and buried without any honours befitting a Monarch.
A statement on York Minster’s website read: “The Chapter of York understands the strong feeling of some people in York and Yorkshire that Richard III is significant to the history of the county and that therefore his body ought to be returned. However, the recent verification of the identity of his remains follows a significant period in which Leicester and Leicestershire gained a sense of Richard belonging there, at least in death. It was Leicester Franciscans who gave him burial, and the cathedral has a major memorial to his memory at its heart.”
According to the statement, “When the possibility of an excavation of the Greyfriars site began, it was agreed from the start that any remains found would be re-interred in Leicester. When the archaeologists found an intact body, the Ministry of Justice licence was drawn up in those terms and explicitly named Leicester Cathedral. Since the news of the finding last year, local people, like the people of York, have expressed a very strong wish that Richard, who has been with them since 1485, should stay in their keeping. The Chapter supports the terms of the Ministry of Justice licence and the wish of Chapter of Leicester that Richard should be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral. The Chapter of York commends Richard to Leicester’s care and to the cathedral community’s prayers.”
Only on Monday, February 4, it was confirmed that the remains found in Leicester car park do indeed belong to the last Plantagenet King of England. Since then, scientists have released Richard III’s facial reconstruction, along with details about his death and burial. There have also been calls to reassess the King’s character and role in English history,