England's Richard III, the 'villainous' king, gets ceremonial reburial

Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:09pm EDT
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - Richard III, the last English king to die in battle and the country's most maligned monarch, will be re-buried on Thursday three years after his remains were found under a car park.

Depicted by Shakespeare as a sadistic, crafty hunchback, Richard will be re-interred at Leicester Cathedral in central England some 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth Field on Aug. 22, 1485.

Following the battle, his naked body was thrown on the back of a horse, taken to Leicester and buried in a humble grave, without the dignity usually bestowed on a king.

Despite reigning just 777 days, he still fascinates not just historians but ordinary people across the world, some of whom have traveled to Leicester to witness the ceremony.

"He seems a hero to some and a villain to others, and the few short years of his reign held promise of a time of peace and good government that was not to be," wrote David Monteith, the Dean of Leicester, in a foreword to Thursday's order of service.

The ceremony will feature a message from Queen Elizabeth, who will be represented by minor members of the royal family.

Britain's Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem entitled "Richard", which will be read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who himself has been identified as a second cousin, 16 times removed of the dead king.

The last Plantagenet king, Richard's death marked the end of the Wars of the Roses, a bloody civil war between the rival dynasties of the House of York and Lancaster.   Continued...

A crown sits on the coffin of King Richard III as it stands in Leicester Cathedral, central England, March 22, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Staples