Richard III reburied today

More than 35,000 people lined the cortege route on Sunday, and more than 20,000 visitors have queued up to pay their respects to the mortal remains of Richard III in the three days the coffin has been on view at Leicester Cathedral. The culmination of this week of events is today’s reburial service.

A few tidbits about the service:

  • The current royal family will be represented by the Countess of Wessex, wife of Prince Edward, and the Duke of Gloucester who shares a title Richard held before he was king, but Queen Elizabeth II has written a tribute to Richard that will be printed in the service program.
  • After the service the coffin will be lowered into a tomb built of Yorkshire Swaledale stone. This is the first time the public will witness the actual lowering of a monarch’s coffin into the grave.
  • Descendents of people who fought at the Battle of Bosworth will be present.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, who is playing Richard III in an upcoming BBC series based on Shakespeare’s relevant histories, will read a poem called Richard written for the occasion by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Also University of Leicester historian Kevin Schürer found Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard III are second cousins 16 times removed, see abridged genealogy here (pdf).
  • After the service the Cathedral will be closed to the public until Friday when the new memorial will be in place.

If you missed the transfer of the remains from the University of Leicester to the Cathedral and the Compline service that followed, Channel 4 has their entire coverage of the event available on their website. They will again be the only television channel broadcasting the reinterment live, but it looks like a sure bet that they’ll have that video available on their website if you miss it live.

Channel 4’s live coverage begins at 10:00 AM GMT (6:00 AM EST). In addition to airing the service itself, it will include discussions with some of the guests and the people involved in the discovery and reburial. The program will last three hours until 1:00 PM GMT. They’ll air a one-hour highlight reel at 8:00 PM GMT.

Needless to say, I’ll be watching live.

6:00 AM EDIT: Or rather I would be, if the Channel 4 viewer weren’t giving me an error. :angry:

7:06 AM: I can’t get it to work, dammit. I’ll have to watch it on demand later. For now, I’m listening to BBC Radio Leicester’s live coverage and following the Twitter RichardReburied hashtag.

The Leicester Mercury is liveblogging the reburial, as is the city’s dedicated King Richard in Leicester website.

7:23 AM: Here’s Queen Elizabeth II’s message:

7:31 AM: Professor Gordon Campbell, the University of Leicester’s public orator (dude, they have a public orator!) opened with a euology that was a brief, dry summary of Richard’s life, the discovery of his remains and the significance of his mitochondrial DNA. They don’t orate like they used to, man.

7:37 AM: The Dean just placed Richard’s personal Book of Hours, found in his tent after the Battle of Bosworth, on a cushion in front of the coffin.

7:49 AM: Check out this amazing headshake and eyeroll from John Ashdown-Hill of the Richard III Society. That’s Philippa Langley sitting next to him. I’m guessing is has something to do with insufficent recognition of Langley and the Society’s work in making this day come to pass.

7:58 AM: What a poetic sermon from the Bishop of Leicester.

8:02 AM: Here’s a neat story about the artist who made the ceramic vessels to hold the soils of Fotheringhay, Middleham and Fenn Lane that were blessed on Sunday and will be interred with Richard’s remains today. Michael Ibsen made the box, and a handsome one it is.

8:07 AM: Classic ashes to ashes dust to dust reading over the coffin which is now being lowered into the tomb.

8:08 AM: Apparently the soils will be sprinkled over the coffin, not placed in the tomb in the handsome box.

8:14 AM: “Grant me the carving of my name…” Dame Carol Ann Duffy’s poem is beautiful and moving and Benedict Cumberbatch recited it like, well, a pro.


My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
as incense, votive, vanishing; your own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.

These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –
unless the Resurrection of the Dead…

or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death,
as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.

8:27 AM: And that’s all, folks. The luminaries are processing out. It was less than an hour long. No long, boring speeches. Beautiful music. Great poem. Epic Ricardian eyeroll. I couldn’t ask for more.

8:35 AM: Channel 4’s coverage continues with interviews of some of the principals — Langley, Ibsen, etc. I wonder if they’ll ask Philippa about the epic eyeroll. If, like me, you’re having trouble viewing the broadcast on Channel 4’s website, you can watch it online here instead. Wish I had remembered that an hour ago. :blankstare:

8:41 AM: They did ask John Ashdown-Hill about his eyeroll and he minced no words. He hoped the service would be peaceful, but “we still seem to be dealing with some lies from Leicester.” Daaaaamn… He wouldn’t specify the lies beyond saying they got Richard’s birthday wrong on the program.

8:45 AM: Benedict Cumberbatch was blown away by the poem. He looks stylish wearing a white rose lapel pin.


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Comment by Margaret Jones
2015-03-26 05:48:13

I was at Market Bosworth on Sunday to cheer King Richard on his way. It was a wonderful day, something I’ll always remember.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 06:13:01

What a thrill! The atmosphere must have been electric.

Comment by Rachel
2015-03-26 09:22:43

I’m working a graveyard shift on the US west coast so I’ve been reading coverage. Will watch it later. That is a lovely poem, with a masterful cadence. I’d love to make it to Leicester someday.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 11:21:07

I think Leicester is going to be a major tourist destination from now on. We history nerds are legion.

Comment by CinTam
2015-03-26 10:34:16

The viewer on Channel 4’s website doesn’t appear to be working. At least it isn’t working for me. 🙁

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 11:20:01

It didn’t work for me either. It’s not great quality, but you can stream Channel 4 online here. They will be showing highlights of the service this afternoon at 4:00 PM EST.

Comment by GoryDetails
2015-03-26 10:57:39

Thanks so much for more Richard-coverage (and for solving the comment-problem!). I was amused by the bit about the Bosworth survivors and their descendants – the guy who survived the battle and lived to the ripe old age of 71 before dying by swallowing a *frog* was especially notable. [I may be a descendant of Bosworth soldiers myself, if a rather tenuous genealogy holds true, but alas, it’s on the wrong side – I traced my New England forebears back to William Brandon, standard-bearer to Henry, so I’m in the “Richard killed my ancestor” category, which is still kinda cool.]

I’m still teary over that poem…

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 11:27:13

It’s totally cool. Your ancestors backed the right horse, after all.

I love the frog story too. It may be my favorite random death in history since Jürg Jenatsch was killed by a guy in a bear suit in 17th century Switzerland.

Comment by Karen
2015-03-26 11:12:13

I can’t tune into the coverage, but I’ve been surfing the news. My award for best headline so far goes to the New York Times: “Richard III, Previous Visit a Bust, Is Warmly Received 530 Years Later.”

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 11:27:35

That is a thing of beauty. :notworthy:

Comment by Margaret Jones
2015-03-26 11:14:20

It was fantastic. Haven’t had a chance to catch up with the service yet, am recording that to see when I get home tonight, but have blogged about Sunday. It’s at

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 11:31:26

Fantastic blog entry. This bit made me want to be there so badly:

Charity stalls lined the streets selling mugs and t-shirts; shops, pubs and churches had flung their doors open for use of their facilities; while you could learn how to do hedging, archery or nine-men’s morris from a variety of stalls. It was all very English, rather dotty and eccentric, but incredibly endearing.

Comment by mary
2015-03-26 12:31:23

Hope this comment makes it in, I have been trying all week to thank you for the coverage of this story in your blog! we in the states are somewhat deprived of insightful reporting on all this.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 12:42:25

There was a glitch in the matrix that broke the comments. It took me a week to realize it, but now it’s finally fixed. Thank you for persisting! :thanks:

Comment by michael hill
2015-03-26 13:10:31

i had found before all this had happened that my
father’s family line of CLIFFORD ran back to
KING RICHARD,I have had a very hard time searching through all the dukes and so on to get a clear picture,but my line does go through
the KING HENRY LINE,so i thank you for your blog,i still can not believe they had lost RICHARD’S gravesite and had put a parking lot
over him,who else have they lost.ONE YANK FROM TEXAS.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 15:29:35

How neat! One of my favorite historical personages is Lady Anne Clifford.

Comment by Nan
2015-03-26 14:33:56

Excellent reorting, thank you!

I’m just a simple commoner from “the colonies” but I do think that Queen Elizabeth should have made an appearance. After all, he was a King of England, and finally given a proper burial after all these years. Her tribute in the program was nice.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 15:30:10

I did think the Countess of Wessex was a bit of C-list choice. She’s not even of the blood, as it were.

Comment by Nan
2015-03-26 14:34:39

(I meant “reporting” of course.)

Comment by CinTam
2015-03-26 15:04:03

Thanks, I’ll check it out. Being one of the many direct descendants of Henry VII makes this whole story even more fascinating to me!

Comment by Kristin
2015-03-26 15:05:52

when i click on the link to watch (filmon)I get a Howard Hughes movie . . . ?

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-26 15:39:50

Poop. It appears they don’t have Channel 4 in the line-up at all times. It was there earlier but it’s gone now. I’m sorry to tease. 🙁

Comment by Toffeeapple
2015-03-26 15:30:45

Thank you for the Channel 4 link, I shall watch it tomorrow.

Comment by Shelley
2015-03-26 16:00:47

Fairly new blog reader here and first-time commenter….Wow! Although my family has lived in the U.S. for generations, I have many lines that trace back to the Plantagenets, and I have loved your coverage of the Richard III reburial. Your blog in general is fascinating and something I look forward to reading every day… Although I confess I always hope the day’s topic will be English/British Isles history! Thanks for great insights and many little “nuggets” I would never have seen without this blog.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-27 19:28:17

Welcome to commenting, Shelley! I try to keep my subjects as varied as possible, but a lot of the juiciest stories come from Britain. Mmmm… Hoards …

Comment by Barbara
2015-03-26 16:27:54

As I recall Henry Tudor presented Richard’s Book of Hours to his mother Margaret Beaufort. She scratched Richard’s name out every time it appeared in the text and substituted her own. Margaret R indeed. Hurrumph.

Comment by JoanP
2015-03-26 17:19:52

Not according to The Hours of Richard III, by Anne F. Sutton and Livia Visser Fuchs.

They write, “The next owner to inscribe the book was Margaret Beaufort . . . It has been suggested that it was she who expunged Richard III’s name from ‘his’ prayer in a spirit of hatred. This is not tenable: a revengeful person would scarcely have missed the entry for his birth in the Calendar – which includes his title – and it is ore likely that the erasures were made by a pious later user of the prayer who did not want the name Ricardum to interfere with his devotions. This person was not sufficiently interested in Richard III to erase regem as well . . .”

While I’m at it, I should also recommend Sutton and Fuchs’ book, Richard III’s Books: Ideal and Reality in the Life of a Medieval Prince.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-27 19:25:55

They’re both going on my birthday/Christmas list. Thank you, Joan. :thanks:

Comment by Annie Delyth
2015-03-26 20:20:19

Well, rats, I missed everything on account of being asleep, it appears. Hopefully, as things wind down, the coverage will be available somewhere- perhaps the University or BBC. Trust you to let us know,livius. So far as I know, I have no genealogical links to R3, but have been fascinated by him since watching an televised version of Shakespeare’s play, on tv very very long ago. Very long ago. Filmed in the field, it was very striking. My plan is to win the lottery, and go to England to visit a friend, then tour Richard’s haunts. Um, so to speak. BTW– that was a world class eye roll indeed. Think a bit of contention about credit?

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-27 19:23:53

The whole reburial ceremony is now available on demand on the Channel 4 website. Theoretically only viewers in the UK can watch so you’ll need to, um, visit a friend in the UK.

Comment by CA
2015-03-27 02:08:35

As a fanatic Richardian, I thank you. You gave better coverage than anyone else. I appreciate it. Out in the west of the US of A, this didn’t even rate a mention. But then again, the Queen’s whole visit for the Jamestown anniversary had only a two second blurb and nothing about Jamestown at all. I did enjoy the bat hat, but would have liked to see the visiting Royal rather than her hat du jour.

I wasn’t surprised at the Queen’s absence. Richard was found but not absolved of the gruesome list of “killings” or “murders” he’s accused of. A little too controversial for her. Wessex was a good sop, a Royal but not a Blood and a good sport about it. Gloucester was great, but he’s always been sympathetic to his name sake.

The head shake/eye roll was pretty epic, but Ashdown lives in a world where this was the most important thing. He’s not noted for his patience with those who disagree with him, but Seward and Weir are the same on the other side. I guess it’s a failing of the amateur historian. Tunnel vision. That said, Langley deserved better, since she’s the only real reason for the excavation on the first place. But watching the way she was treated by the professional academics on the dig, it’s not unexpected that they would downplay the role of the passionate enthusiast once the had a provable “scientific” result.

I thank you again for keeping me up to date on this story. I wouldn’t have even heard about the re-internment without you. I appreciate this website and read it daily. I promise to comment so you know that your words are heard gratefully by those out in cyberspace.

Gratitude and Regards, not of the English variety, for all you do.

Thank You

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-27 19:15:28

You’re probably right about the Queen not wanting to wade in personally given the bloody history of the man and his times. Gloucester appeared to me to be totally into it. He probably hasn’t had this cool of a royal duty to do in his entire life.

I agree with you about Langley deserving more credit than the University seems willing to extend now that they’ve been catapulted into the limelight because of this discovery. If it weren’t for her indefatigable efforts, none of this would have come to pass.

Thank you for all your kind words, CA. I hope to live up to them. :thanks:

Comment by rita Roberts
2015-03-27 09:27:23

What a superb post you have given us about the re-burial of Richard111 I have been following this fantastic discovery and progress from the beginning and my only regret was not being able to be present among all those people who lined the streets at Richards internment. This was because, when in England I lived near the area so know all the places mentioned. I now live in Crete. So your blog post is the best coverage to date. Thank you.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-27 19:11:36

Thank you, Rita. How cool it must be for your to be able to picture all these places from memory as you follow the events.

Comment by michael hill
2015-03-27 09:28:02

yes,this is one of the main reasons i do the family tree,just to see who my ancestors were and what they did for a living,so far found presidents,doctors,some that had started some of our main companies here in the u.s.i even found quite a few that had helped on the underground railroad to free the slaves back in the days.i was told when i started (warned)
when i start shaking the family tree do not be surprised what falls out.michael

Comment by Virginia Burton
2015-03-27 10:56:59

The poem was beautiful, but I’m disappointed that the Queen’s statement was typed and not in calligraphy.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-27 18:59:18

It does look a little budget, I agree.

Comment by Barbara
2015-03-27 10:58:37

Thank you JoanP for the information. I tried to find Eamon Duffy’s “Marking the Hours: English People and Their Prayers” (2011) at home last night but it eluded me. That’s probably where I read about R III’s Book of Hours. I’ve wanted to read both “The Hours of Richard III” and “Richard III’s Books”, but the volumes are $135 and $300 respectively on Amazon.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-27 19:01:12

Thanks for checking on Amazon before me. You saved me from a nosebleed/stroke at the sight of those prices.

Comment by Barbara
2015-03-27 11:20:56

I’m not a devoted Richardian, but I can’t accept that anyone could be as black as he’s painted. I did read Josephine Tey’s “Daughter of Time” years ago and found it was a thought-provoking mystery novel. It’s Rosemary Horrox’s “Richard III: A Study in Service” that cause me to question so much about the accepted story. How could someone who advanced policies of fairness in habeas corpus, etc. for those outside the aristocratic class be a monster?

Wasn’t he a typical monarch for his time? Most kings in the late medieval/early modern period seem bloody minded. Henry VII and VIII executed so many of their relatives there was hardly anyone left in England eligible to rule after Elizabeth I died.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-27 19:10:20

Hell, the first Richard to rule England did his damndest to kill his own father. I think the assessment of Richard III’s so-called wickedness can’t be divorced from Shakespeare’s characterization of him.

Comment by CA
2015-03-28 07:50:37

Richard of Gloucester has been “into it ” for at least forty years that I know of. He’s a doll! And he really is named Richard. He’s been in the background or foreground of everything Ricardian for just about forever. If he isn’t a true Richardian he should be a Honorary one for all that he’s done. He is a good man.

I wish I knew what to say about Langley. She put everything on the line, her job with BBC, much of her own money, reputation, and time. They keep treating her like a particularly favored volunteer instead of looking to her as the person with the drive and vision to push this to action. After all, I believe that Ashdown told them exactly where to dig the first time in about 1970 or so. Without Langley none of this would have happened. Just a bunch of Anoracks nattering on about the Social Services Car Park. Now it’s we all KNEW it would be a success and aren’t we wonderful. Really, Academics can be so irritating! Myself included.

As for living up to expectations, don’t worry. You’ve Surpassed them and continue to do so. This blog brightens my day in the midst of my very dark present, Thank you again and just keep keeping on as they say.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-29 08:32:05

“A particularly favored volunteer” is very apt phrasing. That’s exactly how they’re marginalizing her. “Thanks but the professionals are here now, dearie. Move along.”

Comment by Joan P
2015-03-28 10:43:35

Holy smoke! I know I didn’t pay anywhere near that! Of course, I’ve had them for a number of years, and I expect all the interest around the discovery of Richard’s body immediately sent prices soaring.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-03-29 08:27:37

I think you’re right. Prices on out of print books can fluctuate wildly, and given the Richard hype over the past couple of years, it’s definitely a seller’s market right now.

Comment by Lauriana
2015-04-02 02:24:24

Actually, of the seven they listed, only one was said to have fought for Richard. I’m not sure about that first one who died by swallowing a frog (at Flodden field, he would have been fighting for the Tudors but anyone who lived on after the Battle of Bosworth, in Tudor England might have done that). The rest all fought for Tudor.
I’m wondering why they didn’t invite the Howards though.

Comment by Lauriana
2015-04-02 02:31:00

I think they played it safe (with the royal visit and the location for reburial). I don’t see any dissent in the comments here but it’s not the same everywhere.
On the Facebook page of Historic Royal Palaces, they announced the cortege on Thursday and some commenters seemed keen on re-starting the Wars of the Roses…
There are still plenty of people out there who believe all the darkest tales about Richard III and think all this attention is way too good for him.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-04-03 10:02:57

Oh for sure. I saw plenty of that kind of brouhaha on Twitter during the cortege and reburial. For me the sheer joy of this was rooted in something larger than the specifics of Richard’s reign. Hilary Mantel phrased it perfectly in that speech that made the Daily Mail mad because they didn’t understand what she was talking about.

Royal bodies do change after death, and not just as a consequence of the universal post-mortem changes. Now we know the body in the Leicester car park is indeed that of Richard III, we have to concede the curved spine was not Tudor propaganda, but we need not believe the chronicler who claimed Richard was the product of a two-year pregnancy and was born with teeth. Why are we all so pleased about digging up a king? Perhaps because the present is paying some of the debt it owes to the past, and science has come to the aid of history. The king stripped by the victors has been reclothed in his true identity. This is the essential process of history, neatly illustrated: loss, retrieval.

Comment by Lauriana
2015-04-02 02:46:53

My apologies, I was reading through the comments and tried to reply to a few but apparently, those replies got added as separate comments..

I just wanted to say I’m really enjoying these posts.

Oh, and I keep thinking that the whole family tree thing is a bit funny. The Battle of Bosworth was 530 years ago. Which is a lot of generations. If any of your family ever came from the British Isles, you’re likely to be some kind of relation to some mediaeval monarch. Of course, that isn’t to say that it is not interesting, just not as unusual as it may seem at first glance.

Comment by livius drusus
2015-04-03 09:57:31

Oh for sure. Royalty tend to reproduce a great deal, on both sides of the bed, so we’re probably all descended from one or another of them. Genghis Khan has 16 million male direct descendants alive today. The trick is finding documented proof of the line, and in Richard’s case, the trick was finding an unbroken line of daughters from his mother until us. That is a far smaller pool of applicants.

Comment by Lauriana
2015-04-05 12:10:58

I’m a fan of Hilary Mantel anyway but I hadn’t read this, and yes, she phrases it perfectly.
In fact, I went to a talk she gave in my home town (the Hague, the Netherlands) just after “Bring up the bodies” was published and she said that after finishing the Cromwell trilogy (still waiting for book nr. 3), she planned to write about “50 years before or after” that…. 50 years before would put the story at this troubled end of the Wars of the Roses. I’m keeping my fingers crossed 😉

Comment by livius drusus
2015-04-05 15:30:56

Oh man, let’s hope it happens and soon. I’d love to read her take on Richard, especially in the wake of our new understanding of his physicality.

Comment by Margaret Jones
2015-04-05 17:19:04

Thanks for lovely comment. I love your blog!

Comment by Margaret Jones
2015-04-13 10:16:01

Just thought you might be interested in this – it’s a blog post that I did for work which resulted from the trip to Market Bosworth. All about the musicians who played for both Richard III and Henry VII…

Comment by Countess
2015-04-13 14:26:58

For someone who has been so vocal on here about Richards re burial. all I can say is GLAD he’s finely been laid to rest. with decent honer. As far as the coment about all of us being desended from Royalty .Yes mabey? But the dif is some can prove it /or/ I ought to say trace it & some cant.Rember many of the players on the same stage as Richard also desend from the same Royals he did. I proudly claim desent from George Duke of Clarence.As well as Edward’s dau.Elizabeth..and that other guy that follwed Richard to the throne.Yes I am interested in What happened to Richard. I can and do claime him as family. Countess

Comment by kristine
2015-04-22 20:41:32

Dare I say that I got to be in Leicester on March 26th!! I was not in the cathedral, but rather in Jubilee Square watching on the big screen in the mist and wind. It was wonderful. A forever memory. We all laughed at John’s eye-roll (that would be a couple hundred people). Thanks for the coverage I could read about now that I’m home in Colorado.

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