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University of Leicester to reinter King Richard III at Leicester Cathedral

University of Leicester to reinter King Richard III at Leicester Cathedral

May 23rd, 2014
Archaeology

The University of Leicester has retained the right to proceed with the reinterment of King Richard III in Leicester.

The University had pledged in 2012 that, should Richard be discovered, he would be reinterred in Leicester.  The Ministry of Justice granted the University an exhumation licence to proceed.

When the University of Leicester confirmed that its archaeologists had discovered King Richard III, the University announced it would proceed with the reinterment at Leicester Cathedral.

But the licence was then challenged by a group of pro-Yorkists called the Plantagenet Alliance who stalled the reinterment process leading to a protracted wrangle in the Courts.

Now the High Court has decided to allow the reinterment to proceed.  Their decision can be found here: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/announcements/

A spokesperson for the University of Leicester said: “This is a victory for common sense and justice and it upholds the norms and agreed practice for archaeological excavations.

“King Richard III received a Christian burial in Leicester over 500 years ago and it is only right, now that the Church where he was buried has been destroyed, that he is reinterred in the Cathedral in the same parish with honour and dignity.

“The fact that the University of Leicester discovered the King through the expertise of its archaeological work and subsequent scientific investigation is undisputed. What the Plantagenet Alliance did was to challenge the legal licence the University was granted by the Ministry of Justice permitting reinterment at Leicester Cathedral. That challenge has been thrown out and the Leicester case has been vindicated.

“It is important to remember  there would have been no discovery at all without a combination of factors that focussed on Leicester – Philippa Langley’s Looking for Richard initiative,  the University’s plan for the dig and  the fact that Leicester City Council had granted permission for us to excavate their land. The University was the principal funder of the dig and conducted the exhumation on the basis of a legally issued licence that permitted reinterment at Leicester Cathedral.  We remain committed to that original purpose.”

University of Leicester Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess said: “The discovery and scientific identification of Richard III following an archaeological dig led by the University of Leicester was an historic occasion that focussed worldwide attention on the benefits of world-class research.

“Right from the outset, it was made clear that the University planned for a reinterment in Leicester Cathedral.  This was publicly announced before work even started and was reiterated throughout the process of the dig.  However, it was only when we confirmed we had found Richard III that a legal challenge derailed the process to reinter Richard at Leicester Cathedral.

“Now that this legal challenge has been overturned, we will continue to work with our partners to ensure King Richard III is reinterred in Leicester with dignity and honour.”

Archaeologist Richard Buckley, who led the dig that made the discovery and announced to the world that the University of Leicester had discovered the remains of King Richard III, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the High Court has ruled that our exhumation licence is valid.  We may now make arrangements for the transfer of Richard III’s remains from the University of Leicester to Leicester Cathedral where they may be reinterred with dignity and honour as befitting the last Plantagenet King of England.

“From the outset of the project, I have always stressed the importance of maintaining the strong historical association of King Richard with Leicester and we followed best archaeological practice in recommending that his remains be transferred to the nearest place of interment: ­ the cathedral of St Martin, less than a hundred metres away.

“Ultimately a King of England by right of conquest – Henry VII – decided in August 1485 to hand over the vanquished King Richard’s remains  to the Franciscan Friars in Leicester for burial.  There they have lain for over half a millennium and have become part of Leicester’s history.  Long may this association continue.”

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