Uncertainty over reburial of Richard III as Leicester and York await judicial review

By Culture24 Reporter | 04 February 2014

The reburial of Richard III will be decided by a judicial review more than a year after his body was found

A photo of a recreated head of a medieval king against a red background
A recreation of Richard III's head will move to a new £4 million visitor centre in Leicester after a tour which included York. The final resting place of the King is uncertain, with feelings running high in both cities© Courtesy Richard III Society
On the anniversary of the bones under a Leicester car park being confirmed as those of Richard III, the issue of where the king might be buried – his distant relatives believe he should rest in York, while Leicester Cathedral this week launched a website dedicated to its designs for his tomb – remains undecided.

Having carried out the excavation, experts at the University of Leicester remain in charge of the bones at a secret location on campus.

“Because there are people who feel so strongly about it, what we don’t want is to risk somebody taking action on those emotional feelings or souvenir hunting or whatever,” Lin Foxhall, a Professor of Ancient History at the university, told a special report on BBC One’s Inside Out East Midlands last night.

“It’s our duty to make sure that they are safely kept until the reinterment.”

Vanessa Roe, the 16th great niece of Richard, said she should have been consulted.

“If Leicester was that bothered about him they would have dug him up years ago,” she added.

“They knew where he was – they had a very good idea where he was.”

In a statement on the King Richard III Campaign website, Roe and her fellow descendents of the King said his body should be ceremonially reburied at York Minster.

“We believe that such an interment was the desire of King Richard in life and we have written this statement so that his inferred wishes may be fully recognised,” they declared.

“King Richard III was the last King of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty which ruled England following the succession of King Henry II in 1154.

“We believe that King Richard is deserving of great recognition and respect and hereby agree to dutifully uphold his memory.”

Leicester Cathedral say their reburial plans would be carried out “on behalf of the whole nation” with “dignity and honour”. The Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, which would need to rule on the potential reorder of the cathedral in the event of the reburial, has delayed any decision until after the ruling of the Judicial Review on March 13.

The first pictures have also been released of a new £4 million visitor centre in Leicester’s Cathedral Quarter which will promote the story of Richard III in a former Leicester Grammar School building overlooking the car park site.

Artefacts, stained glass and interactive displays and hands-on exhibits will tell the story of the archaeological investigation. A facial reconstruction of Richard, which intrigued visitors when it toured to the Yorkshire Museum in York last year, will also be shown.

“The new visitor centre has the potential to draw visitors from all over the world, and to make an enormous contribution to the economic and cultural prosperity of the city,” said Keith Beaumont, the chair of a shadow board who will take over the running of the site from the city’s council.

“I am very pleased that we have been able to establish a board of trustees with a vast range of experience and knowledge to ensure that Leicester rises to this challenge.”

The opening date and admission prices are expected to be announced later this month. An exhibition, Richard III: Dynasty, Death and Discovery, will follow during the summer.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

More on Richard III:

Forensic reconstruction of Richard III's head to appear at Yorkshire Museum this summer

Richard III: Leicester's Search for a King attracts record crowds to Medieval Guildhall

600-year-old Richard III manuscript turns the page at Yorkshire Museum
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